Tag Archives: Back 2 School Store

A wonderful day spent helping underprivileged kids get much-needed back to school clothes. “Key and Peele” on texting confusion is still hilarious. And the Ohio State fan who, in a coma, still hated Michigan

It has quickly become one of the highlights of my summer, every summer.

There is so much we take for granted in our lives, especially those of us fortunate to never have had to worry about having new clothes for school, or new notebooks, or even toothbrushes. But of course millions of American kids don’t have those things, don’t have the kinds of basic items that can mean so much in terms of self-esteem, educational opportunities, and simply being able to succeed.

For the fifth year in a row on Long Island, Sunday was Back 2 School Store day in Woodmere, the small community where my wonderful in-laws live. This event, sponsored by the National Council of Jewish Women (an organization my late, beloved grandmother volunteered for), has a simple purpose:To provide free clothes, school supplies, books and other merchandise to underprivileged children in the Nassau County, N.Y. area.

Thanks to grants and donations, more than 500 kids each year (mostly aged 5-13) get to go on a shopping spree (this year held inside a middle school gymnasium) where they pick out new pants, shirts, sneakers, winter coats, backpacks full of school supplies, and so many other goodies that they otherwise might never see.

I volunteer for this wonderful event every year, and Sunday brought so many smiles. This year I got to do a variety of jobs, including shoe fitter (I channeled my inner Al Bundy on that one), pajamas assistant (I learned pretty quickly to size up what size each child needed, and I also gained a new appreciation for retail salesmen and women who have to re-arrange all the clothes once the customers leave them all over the place) and most excitingly to me, personal shopper.

The personal shopper gets matched up with one child and then spends the next 20 minutes walking them around and letting them pick one type of every item. Seeing one of the little girls I helped’s face when she found the perfect pink coat, and then pants to match, was so rewarding.

The best story I heard Sunday came not from me, but from a friend of my mother-in-law. The woman was told by this pre-teen boy’s parents at the start that shopping for him “will take hours,” because he suffers from ADD, has trouble making decisions, is never happy with anything, etc.

Twenty minutes later, the personal shopper emerged from the gym with this boy smiling ear to ear. He had loved making decisions on everything he wanted, was incredibly appreciative, saying “thank you” every time he put an item into his bag, and had the time of his life.

His beaming parents told the personal shopper, “He came out of that room a different kid from the one who walked in.”

That’s the kind of small difference just one program, on one day of the year, can make.

The NCJW holds Back 2 School Store events in many cities across the country; for more info, check out www.ncjw.org

**Next up today, I’m sure most of you have had this experience: You’re texting with someone you know, they write something you think means one thing, but thanks to their being no way to tell “tone” with texting, you take it to mean something completely different. I had that experience with a friend last week, and then coincidentally saw this clip in an online column I read. It’s from the often-hilarious “Key and Peele” show, and it’s fantastic. Enjoy…

**Finally today, this from the intersection of medical miracles and sports passion. A huge Ohio State fan, from Dublin, Ohio named Zach Lawrence was in a serious car accident in April, and was in a coma for quite some time. His doctors at the  Dodd Hall Rehabilitation Center at Ohio State University gave him a series of tests to try to gauge his responsiveness and alertness, even while in the coma.

He was unresponsive to many questions where he was asked to push one button for yes, and another for no.

Finally, “Do you like Michigan?” was asked.

Lawrence immediately pushed the “no” button. And then — just to make sure everyone had heard him the first time — he pushed it again.

Man, that’s some rivalry. Even in a coma the dude manages to convey hatred for all things maize and blue. Best news of all, is that he’s recovering slowly but surely.

If UM football coach Jim Harbaugh reads about Lawrence, I’m thinking he should send a whole treasure trove of Wolverines gear to the rehab center. Can you imagine how many times he’d press the “no” button then?

 

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A wonderful day spent helping underprivileged kids get school supplies. The dude who jumped from a plane with no parachute. And a brilliant cartoon sums up the 2016 election

Jefferson Argueta loaded up his new backpack with goods donated by several local and national businesses, such as Kohls and Staples. Lynbrook Temple Am Echad 7/27/14

So many days of the year, you feel like you’re not making much of a difference. But every once in a while, a day comes along that just gives you hope, and the knowledge that maybe, maybe, your actions helped make a small, positive change in the lives of a few people, and you go to sleep feeling great.

Sunday was one of those days for me. A few years ago my wonderful mother-in-law told me about this fantastic annual event that her synagogue hosts. Sponsored by the National Council of Jewish Women (an organization my late, beloved grandmother volunteered for), it’s called the Back 2 School Store, and it’s purpose is simple: To provide free clothes, school supplies, books and other merchandise to underprivileged children in the Nassau County, N.Y. area.

More than 500 children attend each year, the events are held by NCJW in many big cities, and Sunday was this year’s event. I had tried to volunteer for it last year I but I think I missed the deadline or something. This year, though, I made sure I was there.

And it was wonderful. And uplifting. The entire temple is turned into a department store, with registration tables, areas for the parents/guardians to sit and wait, and most importantly, a huge section for shopping. There were tables and tables of pants, shirts, shoes, winter coats, hats, books, underwear, socks… basically everything a child needs to get ready for the school year.

I was lucky enough to do two jobs Sunday: for part of the time I was a Parent Escort, helping guide the parents to the different areas where they could wait for their child to be finished, but I also got the coveted assignment of Personal Shopper for a few hours: I walked around the store with children helping them try on clothes, pick out their favorite outfits, and excitedly fill their bags.

It was so much fun. Seeing the look in their eyes while they grabbed a sweatshirt or some flashy new pajamas, realizing that all this stuff was free and they could take it home… some of the children just glowed. I heard some heartbreaking stories from other volunteers about kids from past years, including one who was so excited about one particular freebie: “You mean, I get my OWN toothbrush!” he exclaimed.

The children I helped Sunday couldn’t have been more gracious: One of “my kids” seemed ready to take the first thing I offered him from each table, before I reminded him “it’s OK if you look around a little, you can take whichever one you like best!”
Then there was the 7-year-old boy who, halfway through, looked up at me all of a sudden and asked “I’ve got to pay for all this stuff, right?” I told him no, it was all free, and he immediately smiled and kept shopping.

Then I had a second-grade boy who didn’t care much at all about which clothes he got, but when we got to the free backpacks, opened about 10 of them to see what color the folders and binders inside were, till finally being happy with a black and red one.

Watching their faces walking out was so gratifying; the thanks and gratitude expressed to the volunteers as they lugged out their haul was worth any tiredness accrued.

Did we change the world Sunday? Not in a grand sense, no. But 500 kids will have nice new clothes and school supplies for the new year starting in a few weeks, stuff they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

And that’s a pretty good way to spend a day.

**Next up today, this happened over the weekend and was kind of insane. For the first time ever, a man skydived from an airplane at 25,000 feet without a parachute.

And, you know, lived to tell about it.

Luke Aikins, in the above video, leaped out of a perfectly good, working plane and into a giant 100-foot net in California on Saturday. The video from his helmet is just breathtaking.
Way to go Luke, you crazy bastard. Also blogging about this gives me an excuse to link you to this video: Me, jumping out of an airplane for my first-ever skydive, in 2009 in Florida. Still can’t believe I was crazy enough to do it.

**Finally today, sometimes a political cartoon is so clever and brilliant, it makes your mouth go wide.

Cartoonist Joe Heller drew this fantastic cartoon (below) summing the Hillary/Trump opposing viewpoints, and it took me a few seconds to get it, but when I did, I knew I had to share it.

Great job, Joe.

JoeHeller.cartoon