BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
It is time to get those backpacks stocked.
However, the cost of supplies can put a burden on many families as the first bell of the school year approaches. According to a 2014 report by the National Retail Federation, families spent an average of $90.49 on school supplies last year, and spending is expected to rise this year.
To relieve those costs for Queens families, a number of elected officials and community organizations are holding school supplies drives throughout the end of summer break.
On Aug. 9 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) will host his annual school supplies giveaway at St. Paul Apostle Church. The church is located on 98th Place off of 57th Avenue in Corona. The drive will move to the church’s parish hall, located at 98-16 55th Ave., in the case of rain.
More than 1,800 backpacks, most of which will be stuffed with supplies such as notebooks, pens and pencils and calculators, will be distributed at the drive on a first-come, first-served basis.
After picking up a backpack, students can get some end of summer fun with face painting, a bouncy house and a rock climbing wall.
Community members looking to donate school supplies should head to the nearest Astoria Bank branch. Throughout August, Astoria Bank is holding its 15th annual Kids Tools for School drive, collecting school items and cash donations during branch hours.
According to a statement released in late July, the bank will match up to $10,000 in cash donations to purchase additional supplies. Supplies will be distributed to more than 60 local schools, shelters and service organizations.
Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), in conjunction with the Queens Library and St. Michael’s Cemetery, is holding a drive from July 31 to Sept. 5.
Donations can be dropped off at Constantinides’ office at 31-09 Newtown Ave. in Astoria, Quontic Bank at 31-05 Broadway in Astoria and the Steinway and Astoria branches of the Queens Library.
Supplies from this drive will be donated to education advocacy group Zone 126, community group Urban Upbound and a local high school, middle school and elementary school.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) will hold his fifth annual school supplies drive, starting at a to-be-determined date this month until mid-September or longer, depending on need.
The Woodside, Sunnyside, Long Island City, Broadway and Court Square branches of the Queens Library will be accepting new, unused school and art supplies for this drive, as will Van Bramer’s office at 47-01 Queens Blvd. The supplies will be distributed to area schools.
Volunteers of America will also host its annual Operation Backpack, distributing stuffed backpacks to homeless children throughout the City. To donate supplies, New Yorkers can visit a number of official drop off locations.
Queens locations accepting Operation Backpack donations include the office of Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) at 118-35 Queens Blvd. and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish at 92-96 220th St. in Queens Village. Every Duane Reade location in the City will accept Operation Backpack supplies as well.
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.