Supplies for Success Offers Medicine for the Mind with Essential School Supplies - 27 East

Supplies for Success Offers Medicine for the Mind with Essential School Supplies

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Supplies For Success provided school supplies to students on the East End.

Supplies For Success provided school supplies to students on the East End.

Supplies For Success provided school supplies to students on the East End.

Supplies For Success provided school supplies to students on the East End.

Supplies For Success provided school supplies to students on the East End.

Supplies For Success provided school supplies to students on the East End.

Supplies For Success provided school supplies to students on the East End.

Supplies For Success provided school supplies to students on the East End.

Supplies For Success provided school supplies to students on the East End.

Supplies For Success provided school supplies to students on the East End.

Supplies For Success provided school supplies to students on the East End.

Supplies For Success provided school supplies to students on the East End.

By Shari Adler on Sep 17, 2020

Each summer, the Supplies for Success 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, based in Sagaponack, maximizes funds raised throughout the year to provide backpacks filled with essential and grade-appropriate school supplies to the widest populations of students in need throughout the East End, as well as other locations across Long Island, the Tri-State area, and beyond.

This year, while students will learn in a variety of modalities, such as in-person, online, remote, hybrid, or live stream, children everywhere continue to require essential learning tools.

This is where Success for Success enters, offering educational materials which, in fact, may be regarded as a sort of medicine for the mind. Since its inception, SFS has provided over 100,000 students, across the eastern seaboard, with new backpacks filled with age-appropriate school supplies that include such necessary tools as pencils, notebooks, folders, binders, sharpeners, colored pencils, markers, and more, before the first day of school. Their mission is that all children start the school year with the confidence and tools required for learning on an even playing field.

Last year, the Bridgehampton Community House graciously shared its space as a local partner, supporting the effort to gather, assemble, and distribute the backpacks to area schools and organizations throughout the East End. This year, the founder and president of Supplies for Success, Mindy Richenstein, along with her vice president and secretary, Jill Bodian, pivoted their efforts to comply with pandemic-imposed restrictions and guidelines to ensure that children in need, whether learning virtually or in person, will still receive their school supplies.

Ms. Richenstein and Ms. Bodian sought new methods of fundraising, community engagement, and means of distribution. For example, through their outreach, they discovered that many mothers with young children were establishing small-group safe pods for home-stay day camps. These small groups provided the perfect environment for over 40 backyard backpack assemblies. Additionally, these children learned the lesson of gratitude by giving back and sharing in the wonderful exercise of “kids helping kids.”

Supplies for Success partnered with other non-profit organizations, including Island Harvest. When the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to close in March, SFS swiftly mobilized to respond to the needs of homebound children, including the families of frontline healthcare workers and first responders, with CareKits filled with creative art and educational materials intended to engage young children through learning, imagining, and creating. More than 15,000 CareKits were donated and distributed through food banks such as Island Harvest and Long Island Cares, as well as to hospitals such as Northwell Health and Stony Brook, East End public schools, and service organizations such as Heart of the Hamptons and Bridgehampton Childcare. It was through the CareKit donations that SFS came to collaborate with Island Harvest for back-to-school efforts.

Island Harvest was also founded by one woman who was inspired to give back. In 1992, Linda Breitstone started Island Harvest with a cooler and a station wagon as she saw the need to connect surplus food from a local convenience store with a safe house for women and children “down the street.” Today, the “Island Harvest Mission is to end hunger and reduce food waste on Long Island.” It is the largest hunger-relief organization on Long Island with a recipient network of over 570 Long-Island-based food pantries, soup kitchens, and other non-profit organizations.

This season, the New York Mets baseball organization stepped up to the plate in a big way, a home run, one might say, as they presented Island Harvest with a magnanimous grant. Since Supplies for Success had previously partnered with Island Harvest and established a solid symbiotic relationship, Island Harvest decided to contact SFS for their expertise in the purchasing and selection of school supplies and share a portion of that grant with SFS such that essential tools for school could accompany food donations, specifically, at an outdoor drive-through event in Hicksville to benefit 1,000 families. The collaboration enabled SFS to expand its network to help more Long Island children even in the midst of our once-in-a-century pandemic.

Another philanthropic donor has been Schonfeld Strategic Advisors, which sponsored 1,100 backpacks for children in need this year. The fact that the firm was prohibited from gathering employees in its offices to assemble backpacks did not prevent it from doing the good work. This mandated guideline only reinforced the firm’s commitment to corporate responsibility. Employees felt a personal urgency and motivation to conduct such assemblies in the privacy of their respective homes. The firm stood by their commitment to help those less fortunate, even in the face of their own restrictions.

Moreover, in 2020, Supplies for Success acted again with unique flexibility to arrange for backpacks to be pre-filled at a Long Island warehouse to ship directly to 117 locations including schools and non-profit organizations. SFS even designated and allocated many backpacks to be sent to the personal homes of social workers to be distributed to their client families whose children were prevented from attending school or camp.

Thus far from January through September, Supplies for Success has served over 20,000 children with new backpacks filled with essential school supplies. Remarkably, this outreach is greater than any previous year. However, SFS remains in the throes of expanding its reach of students in need by providing additional backpacks. SFS has formed collaborations with other nonprofits to help their populations, including UJA, Ed Alliance, Met Council, and The Safe Center to expand fund-raising efforts to provide even more children in need with essential school supplies and backpacks.

On the East End, Supplies for Success has collaborated with Hamptons United, Hamptons Art Camp, and Heart of the Hamptons to ensure that children start school fully prepared to learn. To date, SFS has provided filled backpacks to Southampton Schools, the Tuckahoe School, the Sag Harbor Elementary School, Bridgehampton Schools, and the Bridgehampton Childcare and Recreation Center, among others.

Helping children start school with confidence and pride is giving them nothing short of medicine for the mind. A video illustrates the good works of Supplies for Success: www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjxz0GTr_gI&feature=youtu.be.

Anyone inclined to donate, or who would like to participate in supporting children in need with essential learning tools and new backpacks, can visit www.suppliesforsuccess.org.

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