Make the Road New York (MRNY), an organization advocating for immigrant and working-class communities, distributed basic school supplies for about 500 students as part of the annual back-to-school drive.
The organization specifically aided families in Jackson Heights, Corona and Elmhurst, where their main office is located, during an event on Saturday, Aug. 21.
In previous years, MRNY has given out 300 or 400 backpacks.
MRNY often receives donations from elected officials in the area, including Assembly member Jessica González-Rojas.
“These last two years have been difficult as families attempt to do more with less,” González-Rojas said. “MRNY is an invaluable organization in our district, and we’re always proud to join forces to distribute information, resources and to fight for policy change to take care of our most vulnerable neighbors. Our school supplies drive was just one way that we are working together and will continue to show up in our communities to deliver for our constituents.”
Marilyn Mendoza, an education justice organizer with MRNY, pointed out that her community was the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic last year and saw a lot of tragedy.
“We saw a lot of members pass away due to COVID. People are still trying to get back on their feet,” Mendoza said. “We want to help relieve some of that stress by providing the essentials so that their children can go back to school without having to think about not having a backpack or whatever other supplies.”
Before the pandemic, MRNY would hold workshops to help communities understand their immigration rights before the school year started. Now, the group also offers vaccinations at these back-to-school events for both parents and students.
Mendoza pointed out that this year the available donated supplies weren’t enough to reach the demand.
“I really appreciate all the help community members have been able to provide,” Mendoza said. “Once we gave out all our backpacks, we still had people coming and asking if we had donations left over. I don’t think it will ever be enough, but I appreciate anything and everything we can get.”
For more information on future events and to learn how to donate, contact Mendoza by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.