Councilman Robert Holden, in collaboration with the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council and Crifasi Real Estate Realtors Andrew and Fran LaSala, hosted a back-to-school backpack giveaway outside of his district office on Tuesday, Aug. 29.
Nearby residents and locals began forming a line outside the councilman’s doors, on 58-38 69th St. in Maspeth hours before the event was set to start at noon, according to staffers. In under 30 minutes, the line full of anticipating parents with their children quickly dissipated and so too did the more than 200 backpacks.
Queens legislators and civic groups made an added effort this year to continue serving families in the area through back-to-school giveaways. Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar and the Woodhaven BID held backpack giveaways last week, also serving parents and children in need.
Rania Felly, with her two boys entering the first and fourth grades, collected a backpack for each. Felly said she heard about the event by following the councilman on Facebook and decided to walk over to Holden’s office.
Backpack giveaway events also allow the volunteers to take away something else — a sense of fulfillment. At the beginning of the event, Alicia Vaichunas, deputy chief of staff for Holden, told QNS how one young girl’s reaction after receiving a bookbag took her by surprise.
Alicia Vaichunas explained how one interaction earlier in the day with a backpack recipient really caught her by surprise — fueling the need to continue these events.
“She was the first one I took and she was so grateful that she hugged me and I was like, I didn’t expect that,” Vaichunas recalled.
Staffers distributed many of the backpacks, including composition notebooks and pencil cases given by the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council, but residents in need of help this school year are encouraged to reach out to Holden’s office.