As NYC students returned to classrooms this September, The Child Center of NY provided backpacks for families in need through our 2021 Backpack Drive. This year, with the help of our visionary sponsor, Chobani, we raised more than $84,000 and provided backpacks and school supplies for 4,000 students.
In addition to generously donating $25,000, Chobani visited our afterschool program in Elmhurst to distribute backpacks, school supplies, and snacks to local families. Chobani brought a truck full of drinkable yogurt as well as other products for students and parents to enjoy during dismissal. As you can see from this video, families loved the gesture and our students had a blast with the Chobani truck after a long day of school.
Since 2015, The Child Center of NY has sponsored a backpack drive to assist local families in need — part of our mission to promote better learning. The needs this year are even greater with the COVID-19 pandemic and the damage done by Hurricane Ida, but Chobani’s donation is making the 2021 drive our most successful one yet.
“Going back to school, especially during the pandemic and following a natural disaster, is a challenge for kids and families who live at or near the poverty line. That is why The Child Center set out to provide more than 4,000 backpacks to children in under-served communities,” said Traci Donnelly, CEO of The Child Center of NY. “We smashed our goal because of Chobani’s generosity, and we greatly appreciate how they stepped up at a time when it is desperately needed. The Child Center of NY, and the children and families it serves, are so grateful for their support.”
“Last year’s school year was extremely challenging and stressful for students, teachers, and parents,” said Cristina Alesci, Chobani’s Chief Corporate Affairs Officer. “And this year’s started without much relief when Hurricane Ida tore through New York. Families are stretched, so we knew we needed to step up.”
Alesci helped distribute backpacks and Chobani products during the event in Elmhurst. “I’m a native New Yorker and grew up in Queens — less than 10 miles away from here — so helping students here in Elmhurst hits home for me,” she said.
“A big thank you to Chobani for their amazing generosity!” said Nicholas Ferreira, The Child Center’s Senior Vice President of Youth Development. “The entire Chobani team brought such joy to our children and families. When I asked one young participant what she would rate the day, she said, ‘Infinity!’ Can’t beat that!”
Ferreira added that even more important is the fact that because the backpacks are fully loaded with grade-level school supplies, the children who receive them will be able to start school on the right foot — and hard-working families will get some relief, as backpacks and school supplies cost upwards of $100 per child. “After suffering the effects of a pandemic, and now Hurricane Ida, this means so much,” Ferreira said. “Thank you again, Chobani. And an equally huge thank you to Program Director Elisa Pimentel, Senior Program Director, Fran Keogan, and the entire afterschool team! You organized such a wonderful event on very short notice that went off perfectly. Thank you all for your dedication to children and families and for helping to make today amazing.”
“I am so grateful for the opportunity to partner with Chobani for this special event,” Pimentel said. “Our kids were so excited to get new book bags and loved the yummy yogurt! Many families in this community were hit hard by COVID-19, and it really warmed my heart to see our kids so happy — they were all smiles.”
Please visit childcenterny.org/donate-backpack-drive/ to learn more about the 2021 backpack and school supply drive and how to contribute.