The Long Island Coalition for the Homeless will distribute backpacks and school supplies for up to 5,000 children in need on Long Island. On Aug. 23, The Back Pack Pirates Festival will begin the distribution of school supplies after fun filled a summer camp experience for over 400 homeless children
“This event gives the children a day to learn and grow—a day to play on the beach, have a picnic,” said Oak Gentry, one of the event’s founding coordinators.
“Many of them have never been to the beach or had new clothes or supplies for school. This event gives them all of that, and as important, a story to share with their peers,” stated Jill Gentry, another founding volunteer of the Back Pack Pirates event.
“A main focus this year will be providing new bathing suits for the beach and new clothes for back to school. Many do not have bathing suits, and go swimming in their jeans, which remain wet for the whole rest of the day. They don’t bring towels because their parents can’t afford to have them lost. Many of the children have barely known anything other than hand-me-downs or clothes from strangers. It’s important for them to feel excited, enthusiastic and ready to learn and be treated at the same level as their peers,” said Greta Guarton, executive director of the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless.
Charles Russo, chair of LICH and co-organizer of the Summer Festival said, “We are tremendously grateful to the members of the Suffolk County Legislature, Astoria Bank, Keller Williams Homes & Estates, Target Stores, Homemakers Councils and Long Island Board of Realtors, who have been supporters of our Back Pack Pirates event from its inception, and who will be collecting supplies for Suffolk’s children in need. We are also grateful to various libraries throughout our region, who have agreed to collect school supplies for our drive, and act as drop-off sites.”
The second half of the distribution will take place at the end of August. The Long Island Coalition for the Homeless is seeking additional partners to help provide much-needed school supplies to children in need. Donations of new school supplies and backpacks will be accepted at the LICH offices, the offices of Russo, Karl, Widmaier and Cordano (400 Townline Rd., Hauppauge) and several other locations through Nassau and Suffolk until the week of Aug. 1. A complete list of drop off locations can be found at www.addressthehomeless.org.
For the fourth year in a row, we have also partnered with Cornell Cooperative Extension and 4-H to host the event and to offer a limited number of summer camp scholarships through the coalition’s partners.