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Back-to-school community efforts lead to a brighter year

Back-to-school community efforts lead to a brighter year
Jessica Lian

At the core of any thriving community lies a fundamental commitment to the welfare of its youngest members. To truly embrace the spirit of community support, it is imperative that events like the one hosted by CBS New York in Harlem occur more regularly and reach beyond only one neighborhood. 

Back-to-school preparations in New York City can be financially daunting for families, with the costs of supplies, clothing and services like haircuts adding up quickly. In these moments of economic strain, the community’s response becomes paramount. 

The #BetterTogether Campaign, organized by CBS New York, partnered with Harlem’s Big Russ Barber Shop, Harlem Mothers and Fathers SAVE and the New York Common Pantry to offer back-to-school goods and services on Sept. 5 and 6. 

In the week leading up to the first day of school, children sat in the barber’s chair to get a fresh cut while their parents browsed the mobile food pantry and donations of backpacks, clothes and supplies. 

This community effort serves as a successful example of the objective to support school-aged children and their families. As the back-to-school season unfolded, the importance of providing these young minds with essentials should be recognized.

The absence of insecurity stemming from the ability to obtain these back-to-school essentials included not only receiving the supplies and services but also a surge of enthusiasm and self-confidence in the families. The #BetterTogether event provides a testament to the profound impact that such support can have on young people.

A significant component of the event’s success lies in its inclusivity, where the services benefitted families who live in the neighborhood. The addition of a mobile food pantry underscored the interplay of people’s needs, demonstrating that support extends beyond a single item. 

It was a great idea to give out food because it serves as a reminder that the challenges faced by families often encompass various aspects of their lives. 

Back-to-school events should be more widespread rather than limited to a single neighborhood.

Local politicians in New York City are well-positioned to play a pivotal role where they can become the driving force behind recurring events that extend vital assistance to those in need. They can initiate collaborations with local businesses while simultaneously benefiting smaller enterprises and further connecting residents to their city.

In Philadelphia, State Representative Joanna McClinton and City Councilwoman Jamie Gauthier hosted a community fair that catered to over five-hundred people, closing down an entire city block. 

Children hailing from multiple West Philadelphia neighborhoods returned home with a backpack stuffed to the brim with supplies. The event was facilitated by volunteers from McClinton and Gauthier’s offices and included different fair booths that granted parents access to mental health resources and advertisements for several job openings. 

Including free mental health services stands out as this opens doors to a resource that remains inaccessible to so many. 

Philadelphia’s community fair is a perfect blueprint that demonstrates a lasting impact on children and parents alike, providing many pointers that New York City can adopt in the future. 

The #BetterTogether event in Harlem stands as a beacon of hope and a testament to the significance of community-driven support for school-aged children during the back-to-school season. 

The expansion of these endeavors ensures that families gain the confidence to take on the new year, especially since students are being adequately prepared for learning in the classroom.

The commitment to nurturing self-esteem, covering rising costs and propelling families toward success will undoubtedly shape a brighter and more promising future for the city’s families.

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