104th Precinct hosts annual backpack giveaway in Ridgewood

104th Precinct
The 104th Precinct distributed a bounty of backpacks at its 5th annual backpack giveaway for residents and neighbors before the start of the school year on Wednesday, Aug. 30. Photo by Anthony Medina

A wet and cloudy morning couldn’t wash out the 104th Precinct from hosting its fifth annual backpack giveaway for residents and neighbors before the start of the school year on Wednesday, Aug. 30.

Once the rain dissipated around 10:30 a.m., parents and children quickly joined officers in front of the 104th Precinct, located 6402 Catalpa Ave. in Ridgewood, to receive a free backpack.

In partnership with the 104th Precinct Community Council, Greater Ridgewood Youth Council, Maspeth Federal Savings Bank, Fidelis Care and Ridgewood Kiwanis Club, officers also provided neighbors with a memorable community experience.

Commanding Officer Christine Bastedenbeck, assistant chief of patrol for queens north, joined the 104th Precinct at the 5th annual backpack giveaway event in Ridgewood, on Wednesday, Aug. 30. Photo by Anthony Medina

“We can give them a backpack and that helps their journey to a good education,” said Deputy Inspector Kevin Coleman, the commanding officer of the 104th Precinct. “We want to promote that. We want to help them with that. So this is a great opportunity … to bring the community and the police together for a common goal of educating the kids. We see this as part of our duty to help society and help the neighborhoods.”

The NYPD highway patrol stopped by with their motorcycle and squad car for participants to check out. Two officers from the NYPD Mounting Unit brought horses for the children to meet, along with the K9 Jemma and her handler P.O. Maurizio Modica, who also made an appearance.

The K9 Jemma, with her handler P.O. Maurizio Modica, took a break from work to join locals at the 104th Precinct backpack giveaway event. Jemma is a Bloodhound and a certified police canine. She specializes in tracking missing and wanted persons. She’s named after Det. Joseph Lemm, who was killed serving his country in Afghanistan on Dec. 21, 2015. Photo by Anthony Medina

Commanding Officer Christine Bastedenbeck, assistant chief of patrol for Queens North, also joined the 104th Precinct for its event.

Keeping in mind the latest grouping of children entering the public school system as an outcome of the migrant crisis, there’s another added emphasis to make sure families are given the opportunity to connect with law enforcement and get the help they need.

“We’re going to be serving kids who literally have who have come here with nothing, absolutely positively nothing. And if they don’t get something like a backpack filled with school supplies they really have nothing. Someone has to be able to help them,” said Bob Monahan, president of the GRYC.

The NYPD Auxiliary also helped set up the backpack giveaway, distributing cotton candy to anyone looking for a sweet treat — a popular attraction in front of the precinct that competed with a free face-painting booth with Nicole L Campos.

Kids couldn’t wait to jump inside the NYPD Highway Patrol car. Photo by Anthony Medina
Ivona Slonski, and her son Jacob, were one of the first who grabbed a photo with the NYPD Motorcycle. The sidecar, one of the fewer issued in the department, is dedicated to the late Detective Anastasios Tsakos. Photo by Anthony Medina
Officers from the New York City Police Department Mounted Unit allowed participants of the backpack event to meet the horses and pose for a photo.Photo by Anthony Medina
The line for face painting was just as long as the line for cotton candy during the 104th Precinct backpack giveaway event.Photo by Anthony Medina  
JoAnn and Thomas Burgess brought their grandbabies, Jimmy and Millie Murtha, straight to the precinct once they heard there was a backpack giveaway happening.Photo by Anthony Medina
The 104th Precinct, local kids, parents, and collaborators of the backpack giveaway event group together to commemorate the 5th annual celebration.Photo by Anthony Medina