More than 250 brand new school backpacks filled with supplies and ready to be distributed to needy children were believed stolen Tuesday night (August 22) during a break in at the Hope Community Services in New Rochelle.
New Rochelle Police are investigating.
The new school supplies were collected through Back to School donation drives with area churches, civic groups and community organizations and good neighbors.
“Considering that backpacks cost at least $20 a piece and filled with costly supplies worth at least $30 each, it’s quite a significant hit”, says Carole Troum, Executive Director. “It is so aggravating. We do so much hard work to purchase, collect, sort, organize” for the children that count on us.
The backpacks and supplies were stored in a locked pantry where they were being sorted for distribution this coming Saturday during a day long event at Refuge of Hope Church in New Rochelle.
“We don’t really know how they broke in but assume they used a crowbar on on outside door. We now have chains and padlocks on it and are installing security cameras on Thursday,” Troum said.
The school supply drive began 10 years ago helping 100 kids but the need has skyrocketed. Last year they distributed 1500 bags and this Saturday expect to equip 1750 children with the crayons, markers, notebooks, paper and all the necessary basic essentials they need to start off the school year on the right foot.
The drive is a special passion for Benito Ceja, Hope Community Project Manager and coordinator of the Back to School Supply Drive. Benito himself grew up as one those needy children who endured the uneasiness of starting school without needed basic learning supplies. Ceja says they had some reserve supply for unexpected families but it’s not enough to cover what was stolen. “We are going to turn kids down”, he said in a somber tone.
If you would like to help contact an Amazon wish list and paypal donation drive has been set up at www.hopecommunityservices.org