STAMFORD, Conn. -- Most everyone can remember the excitement of shopping for new school clothes, the squeak of new tennis shoes, and all those new shiny pencils and smooth, clean notebooks.
Unfortunately, for some children in the Stamford community, their caregivers are unable to provide those items for them in order to head back to school with their heads held high.
That's why two Stamford women, Meryl Japha and Jane Levene, came up with idea to for a Back to School Shop that allows more than 200 economically disadvantaged elementary school students to "go shopping" for a day for new school clothes, shoes and supplies.
"Jane and I were fortunate enough to be able to take our own children back to school shopping each year and we remember it as a time that was both fun for us, and that helped our kids get excited about going back to school," said Japha. "But over half of the children in Stamford are considered economically disadvantaged and most of them don’t have the luxury of being able to pick out new outfits, or even to have the required school supplies, or clothes and shoes that fit properly. We believe that when children are able to choose their own new clothes and school supplies, it will help increase the confidence and enthusiasm they need for a successful school year. “
The Back to School Shop is a one-day event that runs from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Sunday, July 31, in the Davenport Ridge Elementary School gymnasium, which is transformed into a department store setting for the event.
With the assistance of volunteer “personal shoppers,” each child is escorted throughout the store to select an entire new outfit including a shirt, pants, sneakers, socks, underwear, winter jacket, hat and gloves. In addition to the clothing, children are also given a new backpack, which they fill with school supplies, personal care items and books. All of the items chosen by the children are provided at no charge.
While the children are shopping, their parents can visit the on-site Japha Family Resource Center where over a dozen community organizations will provide information about important community services.
“As an all-volunteer organization, we were thrilled to assist over 120 children during our inaugural event last year, and thanks to the generous response of many donors and volunteers, this year’s program has expanded to serve over 200 children," said Levene. "Our plan is to continue to increase the number of children served each year, and perhaps in the future to expand the program beyond Stamford into surrounding communities where there is a similar need.”
The Back to School Shop is not open to the public. The children who benefit from the Back to School Shop event have been identified and pre-registered by social workers in the Stamford Public School System. For more information, or to donate, click here .