Paterson Catholic Charities Organization Giving Away More Backpacks to Children

August 30, 2012

PATERSON — A local Catholic Charities organization is giving away 1,000 backpacks stuffed with school supplies on Saturday, adding to a nonprofit education group’s efforts to prepare children across the state for the new school year.

And there’s more to come next Tuesday.

Father English Community Center will hand out the backpacks — each filled with six pencils, two notebooks and folders, and one glue stick, pencil sharpener and eraser — from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday at its location on 435 Main Street.

The center is working with the New Brunswick-based Better Education for Kids, which will give away an additional 5,000 backpacks from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday at East Side High School, 150 Park Ave., and JFK High School, 61-127 Preakness Ave.

Every child recipient is allowed one backpack. Parents must bring each child seeking a backpack with them to the event, and children should not go alone.

Although not required, parents may pre-register their children at the community center for the Saturday giveaway or at /paterson for the event on Tuesday.

Father English became involved in the initiative after executive assistant Maria Malave reached out to Better Education staff. Malave said many of the children enrolled in the charity organization’s after-school, summer camp, and gang-awareness programs are in need of the supplies.

Better Education distributed 3,000 backpacks in Passaic City on Monday, two-thirds of the supply it had on hand. Outreach Coordinator Gerard Green said city officials are planning to hold another event for residents who could not attend because of rain or other problems. Some of a surplus of 1,500 backpacks from Passaic also could be redistributed to other cities, where the organization is holding its second annual statewide drive; it aims to give away 25,000 backpacks this year.

For more information about the Saturday giveaway at Father English Community Center, email Maria Malave at or call 973-881-0280.

Partners with the Passaic event included Big Brothers, Big Sisters of New Jersey and the Passaic Housing Authority. Green said the giveaway was successful in large part because Housing Authority volunteers helped bridge language gaps and spread the word.

“It was great; I loved the turnout, I would love to work with them in the future,” Green said of the Housing Authority.

Last year, the year-old group, an arm of the education reform advocacy group Better Education Institute, gave away 40,000 backpacks to children in Jersey City, Asbury Park, Elizabeth, Camden and Perth Amboy. Better Education for Kids bought all of the items for the giveaways.

Friday, volunteers will provide 2,000 backpacks to children from 5 to 7 p.m. at Shiloh Baptist Church, 515 W. 4th St. in Plainfield. There also will be a drive in Newark on Sept. 8.