Woodhaven BID back-to-school event offers free backpacks, supplies to local kids

The Woodhaven Business Improvement District (BID) joined forces with Queens legislators and local organizations to support a back-to-school event in which free school supplies and backpacks were distributed on Thursday, Aug 24. 

Parents and guardians lined up alongside the Chase Bank located at 84-01 Jamaica Ave. in Woodhaven, on the crossroads of Forest Parkway and Jamaica Avenue, for a chance to receive a free backpack filled with school supplies from the Woodhaven BID. 

The Woodhaven BID back-to-school event was sponsored by Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, Councilwoman Joann Ariola, Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., along with LiveONNY,  New York Community Bank, Queens Chamber of Commerce and Ridgewood Savings Bank. 

Although the looming presence of rain clouds was notable to all, the event still kicked off around noon. Officers from the 102nd Precinct were able to block a portion of Forest Parkway to make space for a small area where kids could go through a small obstacle course and partake in making some chalk art. Queens artist Deborah Camp was also there to help kids channel their creativity. 

“I think organizations like this are so helpful to make the community a better place because, without organizations like this, we don’t have these kinds of events, we don’t have like public safety, And you know, they really do work to make like the avenue better, which is kind of needed at this time,” said Joanna Leis, who registered for the event and brought her daughter Amelia to pick out her own backpack. “I think it’s kind of deteriorated over the years. So I’m glad that they’re doing events like this and just trying to make Jamaica Avenue better for like, everyone who lives here.”

Gladys Lopez, another Woodhaven resident who managed to see the event flyer on Instagram, was able to grab a backpack for her son and daughter. Lopez said getting the extra supplies helps especially when supplies seem to almost disappear throughout the school year. Her children will be going into Pre-K and second grade this year. 

Jessica Ortiz, who was able to walk to the event, like many nearby attendees, obtained a backpack for her daughter, which helped to fulfill a long list of needed school supplies. 

“Since we’ve been living here they always have different events and they always do something with the book bags, which is really nice,” Ortiz said. “It helps us out, you know?” 

As much as it was fulfilling for the parents and kids, these back-to-school events are just as exciting for those organizing them. 

“For a community like this, as you see, there are people who are hurting and in the community. So being able to take some of that pressure off of parents, and more importantly, to have the children here getting their book bag and smiling and getting ready for the school year, it’s obviously an exciting time, because the kids are actually excited, at least the ones I spoke to, about getting back to school. So it’s that time of the year,” said QBP Richards. 

The Woodhaven BID hosts the backpack and school supplies giveaway event annually, except for 2022, said Executive Director for the Woodhaven BID John Perricone. The turnout for the event was deemed a success, even with parents with children who weren’t registered in advance receiving a backpack.