The COVID-19 epidemic has forced many institutions on the East End to respond in unexpected ways. One such organization is Supplies for Success. The almost-20-year-old not-for-profit pivoted from providing children supplies at the beginning of the school year to partnering with organizations like CMEE to offer activity CareKits. These kits help ensure that kids who that are not in school stay productive, creative and busy. We recently spoke with Supplies for Success vice president Jill Bodian about the organization’s founding, how they’ve responded to the pandemic and how you can get involved.
Can you tells us about the creation of Supplies for Success?
Supplies for Success was started 18 years ago as a project at UJA Federation by founder, Mindy Richenstein. The goal is to help level the playing field by providing the physical tools children need to start the school year off confidently and prepared to learn. In that first year, Supplies for Success helped 68 children in need. Flashforward and Supplies for Success has donated more than 100,000 new backpacks filled with age-appropriate school supplies.
What is “Supplies for Success” mission?
Our mission is to enable disadvantaged children to turn to education as a path out of poverty and to engage volunteers to make that happen. We find that children love the physical act of giving back to other children and in previous years when we’ve hosted community backpacking events, kids of all ages find they get so much joy from giving back. And we can help thousands of children walk into school on the first day, prepared and ready to learn.
During the COVID-19 epidemic, how has your organization pivoted to meet the unprecedented need of families affected by the crisis?
When the crisis started, we pivoted to donate activity CareKits that are filled with art supplies and learning materials so kids that are not in school could stay productive, creative and busy. We have been donating these kits to children in need—through food panties, head start programs and public schools, and to the children of frontline healthcare workers through hospitals. As of mid-June, we’ve donated more than 15,000 kits and continue to fundraise to donate more. Art is so therapeutic and being creative helps with learning. We receive so many heart-felt thank yous and we’ve seen some amazing creations from the children!
What comes in each “Supplies for Success Activity CareKit” ? In typical years, the backpacks are filled with age-appropriate school supplies in three separate grade levels including notebooks, pencils sharpeners, washable markers, colored pencils and more. The CareKits we have been donating contain during the pandemic contain: 1 Coloring/activity Book,1 Package Construction Paper, 1 Sketchpad, 1 Water Color Paint set, 1 box of Crayola Crayons, 1 package Modeling Clay, 1 Blunt Tip Safety Scissors, 1 School Glue, 1 Package 50 Craft Sticks, 1 Reusable Large Ziplock Bag with handle. For back to school 2020, we will be providing a backpack or bag filled with supplies that will benefit all students no matter what form school takes., Kids will need paper and pencils to write with and materials to create school projects.
How can someone get more involved with Supplies for Success? Is there a way they can donate?
There are many ways to get involved. The first and easiest is to donate here or here, but you can also participate in the giving back by hosting your own backpack assembly. In typical years, Supplies for Success hosts community backpack assemblies in Bridgehampton, NYC and Nassau County where the community comes together to fill backpacks in an assembly line. Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, we can’t gather in large groups this year. However, we have many families that are hosting assemblies in their homes. The minimum required for this option is $500 to pack 20 backpacks or 30 CareKits. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more. Another option is creating a fundraising page on the website to raise money from families and friends. We’ve had many people do that and you’ll be surprised at how much money you can raise, and how appreciative people are to have the opportunity to give back. We had a five-year-old create a fundraiser for her birthday and asked for donations instead of gifts. You can see her fundraiser here. Another way to help is to go to https://mkt.com/thebettercollection: and purchase a CareKit for someone you love and, for every kit purchased, we’ll donate one to a child in need.