Backpacks to School










The first day of school is can be one of joy and excitement for a child – a new backpack freshly filled with new school supplies for the coming year. For other children, the first day can be one of stress as they approach the school door, without the tools they need to start the year. In 2016, the average family spent $122 on school supplies for their child, a sum out of reach for low-income families and those living below the poverty level.

The Sharing Shelf believes every child deserves to start the school year ready to learn, with a backpack filled with the supplies s/he needs. We launched our “Backpacks to School” program in 2011 to help children in financial need in our midst. Our goal: To fill new backpacks with grade-appropriate school supplies for children in Westchester in partnership with the Westchester County Department of Social Services.

Our backpacks are filled with grade appropriate supplies for children from kindergarten through high school. Local teachers helped shape our supply lists, and each bag contains the core requirements a student needs for each of her or his classes. Each backpack we provide goes to a specific child – organizations and individuals working with low-income students request backpacks each summer for their clients or students who, based on economic reasons, need a new backpack and supplies.

Since our first distribution of 200 backpacks in 2011, we have seen increasing need and demand for this program. In 2014, we provided nearly 800backpacks to children in 20 school districts. In 2015, we helped more than 1,000 local children from at least 25 school districts, over 1,100 children from more than 30 school districts in 2016 and more than 1,400 children in 2017. The steady increase in demand indicates that there is an unmet need in the Westchester community.

We welcome and rely on local businesses, community groups and individuals to help raise funds, collect supplies, then pack and distribute the backpacks.

To get involved, email Program Director Deborah Blatt at