Thank you for highlighting so prominently Johanna Ginsberg’s wonderful story about NCJW’s Back 2 School Store at Temple B’nai Shalom in West Orange (“Supplies party,” Aug. 5) that for the second year in a row has provided new clothing, school supplies, and toiletries to needy children from the poorest areas of Essex County. As a past leader of both NCJW and the New Jersey Jewish News, I am gratified to see our newspaper showcasing the work of Jewish organizations in the general community, fulfilling the imperative of tikun olam.
One important aspect of the Back to School Store not mentioned in the article, however, was the provision of much-needed health information and screenings for parents, caregivers, and children. While they waited for their children, parents and caregivers were able to visit the health exhibit, where representatives from New Jersey Dental School, University Hospital, the Association for Children of New Jersey, the American Red Cross, and others provided valuable information ranging from detection of oral cancers and fire safety in the home to healthy recipes. With underwriting from the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, NCJW was able to bring New Jersey Nursing School’s Mobile Health Van to the site, with its physician and nurses providing screenings and medical information to the children and their families.
Preparing all of our children to return to school ready to learn is a complex process that entails providing both the supplies and equipment and the physical, social, and emotional tools they need to succeed. NCJW’s Back 2 School Store is an important step in that process for hundreds of disadvantaged children.
The writer is the executive director of The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey.