NYCHA Chairman John Rhea, Council Member Ruben Wills and Kars4Kids Host Backpack Give-Away
Just days before the start of the new school year, NYCHA Chairman John B. Rhea appeared at the New York City Housing Authority’s Baisley Park and South Jamaica Houses in Queens, NY to give much-needed school supplies and more than 3,000 backpacks to local children. The backpack give-away event was hosted in partnership with New York City Council Member Ruben Wills and Kars4Kids, a nonprofit charity organization, on Aug. 30, 2012.
For some families, the complimentary school supplies couldn’t have come at a better time. “It’s good that they gave them away to NYCHA because a lot of kids today - their parents can’t afford to get book bags and supplies,” explained Patricia Williams, a Baisley Park Houses resident.
NYCHA kids show off their back-to-school backbacks at Queens giveaway. (Photo by PETE MIKOLESKI/NYCHA)
In addition to helping families in need, residents saw the event as another step toward strengthening public housing and the local community. “It’s nice that they are doing this in our community,” said Paula Ellis, a Baisley Park Houses resident. Cerrone Williams, another Baisley Park Houses resident added, “It’s a beautiful event. [Council Member] Ruben Wills did what he had to do, and [NYCHA Chairman] John Rhea is here to do what he has to do,” to provide services for local children. “It starts with the backpacks,” Mr. Williams explained. “Mr. Rhea is here and is showing his support.”
Chairman Rhea, speaking to the families and local leaders at the event, emphasized the importance of a good education and the need for proper resources. “Our primary mission at NYCHA is to provide safe, quality, affordable housing to New Yorkers. For a student, a backpack serves sort of the same purpose as a home - it’s a place to house the tools needed to achieve, a place to keep dreams and ambitions.” He added that the investment in providing free backpacks goes beyond the material. “This is about investing in the future of our city. It’s about giving every child the opportunity and the tools to succeed. It’s about providing a foundation from which children can grow and learn and thrive.”
The backpack give-away was part of a series of similar Back-to-School events attended by local leaders, who were more than happy to join forces to assist their neighborhoods. “I come from NYCHA - I come from South Jamaica Houses,” said Council Member Wills. “So I know that there is always a need. We wanted to make sure that we stepped in, especially before school time,” he said. “We had Kars4Kids reach out to us and they have been doing a great job,” he added. “They’ve been great partners, so we could bring everyone together.” Kars4Kids is an organization that collects donations for “Joy for Our Youth”, a nonprofit entity focused on educational and cultural assistance for children.
Angel Dominguez, a spokesperson for Kars4Kids, highlighted the contributions made by local officials. “Kars4Kids is proud of and feels that we are privileged to be able to serve the community and provide children with the proper resources to get a good head start on the new school year alongside prominent politicians, [who] have been very supportive and very helpful in supplying children in the community with supplies,” she said.
Some younger residents were simply happy to have new supplies. Starmel Williams, a young Baisley Park resident, said he would use his new lime green backpack to carry fruit – and of course – as his mother reminded him - homework.