5T preps to pack for backs


Back to school season can be an exciting time for young students. For some, however, financial constraints and expenses can put a damper on the experience.

To lessen the burden on struggling families, UJA-Federation of New York has once again undertaken its annual Tov B’Yachad Supplies for Success initiative, with the effort coming to the Five Towns on Sunday, Aug. 13. Tov B’Yachad is the Orthodox outreach division of UJA on Long Island.

“People don’t realize how many families in the Five Towns struggle to make ends meet and have to choose between putting food on the table or buying their kids clothes,” said Joshua Wanderer, Tov B’Yachad Supplies for Success chair. “[We’re] happy to provide new, filled backpacks to children in our local yeshivas so they can start the school year off right” he said. “Every child deserves a shot at success.”

Tov B’Yachad’s eight-year-old school supply drive is part of a larger collection campaign by UJA which has been taking place across the region for more than 15 years, with around 11,000 backpacks assembled just last year. Organizers for this year’s drive anticipate that more than 900 backpacks will be assembled and distributed to local yeshivas on the South Shore, with more than 12,000 bags being given out across the greater metropolitan area. 

To meet the high demand for supplies, UJA has employed the help of local shuls and yeshivas in collecting items for the project. Donation boxes can be found at several participating shuls in and around the Five Towns. Supplies being requested include backpacks, new materials such as notebooks, paper and folders as well pencils, crayons and glue sticks. Donors are encouraged to contact their local shuls to learn more about what supplies are still needed. 

The summer-long drive will culminate with a community-wide project on Sunday, Aug. 13 at the HAFTR Middle School Gym, 33 Washington Ave. in Lawrence. The event, from 11 am to 12:30 pm, will involve the sorting of donations and the assembly of the backpacks. Adult and teenager volunteers are needed to help set up starting at 9:30 am. Children are welcome to take part in the sorting and compilation activities beginning at 11 am.

For more information about the project and how to volunteer, contact Irwin Gershon, Long Island UJA Tov B’Yachad director, at 516-762-5818 or by email at The overall Supplies for Success drive is chaired by Mindy Richenstein.

Tov B’Yachad supports UJA partner agencies including the Rina Shkolnik Kosher Food Pantry and spearheads mitzvah projects and other programs throughout the year.