Back2School Outreach Packing - The Power of Academic Success, One Backpack at a Time


photo credit: Barbara James

Last week, the Clifton Times ran an article on the Back2School outreach program run by Power of One to ensure that every child in need can get a school-ready backpack to give them a good start for the school year.

The Clifton Times was invited to watch the packing process from opening up boxes from local businesses to assembling the pencil boxes to putting everything together for distribution later this month.

On Tuesday, once the senior lunch was over, some of the seniors at the Senior Barn got busy with two different packings that were held that day. The first was the distribution of food to local seniors, some in senior housing and others who are homebound and unable to come to the Senior Barn. Boxes of luscious fruits and vegetables were open and fragrant, waiting to be packed into bags that would be given out to those seniors. Each delivery includes breakfast and lunch – a single size serving of cereal with a small bottle of milk, a single serving of a lunch item such as pasta with tomato sauce, a bottle of juice, some fresh produce, a snack, a loaf of bread, and a prepped meal for dinner. The packers were organized and efficient and as they chatted quietly on one side of the large room, some energetic young people from the Clifton High School Key Club and Power of One volunteers unpacked larger boxes of notebooks, crayons, pencils, and other items that local businesses had kindly donated.

When the food packets were finalized, the senior citizens walked over and joined the CHS seniors  and Power of One volunteers in an assembly-line fashion to start packing and assembling the backpacks. On this day, the focus was on pencil cases. Each case (either soft or hard) contained a dozen pencils, a pack of 24 crayons, two glue sticks, scissors, a pencil sharpener, and a small note from Power of One wishing them a great school year.

The pencil cases were put in drawstring bags with the Power of One imprint and will also include notebooks and file folders. So far, 300 children have registered via an online portal and will be picking up their supplies at the Clifton Health Department location at 207 Parker Avenue on August 25th. Five schools will get a supply of backpacks for children who weren’t able to register – School 4, School 11, School 12 and the School 12 annex, and School 17. Families at those schools can let a teacher or the principal know if they need help with school supplies.

Donations of pencils, pencil sharpeners and crayons are still needed and can be dropped off at both libraries, the Recreation Department at City Hall, as well as several other locations in town. Of course, monetary donations are always welcome; please contact Kim Castellano via at Power of One for more information on registering children for backpack distribution or for making a financial donation. You can also mail checks to Power Of One – PO Box 6080, Clifton, NJ 07015.

The next packing date is Tuesday, August 22nd at 2:00 PM at the Senior Barn at City Hall. Please contact Kim to see if help is needed to pack.

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