The coronavirus pandemic didn’t stop our Section from making back-to-school shopping special for the families served by Homeless Solutions (HSI). There is often a lot of anxiety that comes with the first day of school. Imagine the additional stress if you were homeless. We started our Back 2 School Store four years ago, under the leadership of Kim Kramer, Kay Salzman, Karen Secular and Melanie Levitan. All our volunteers and supporters of the program remember how exciting it is for children to shop for new clothes, a new backpack and especially new sneakers! We wanted the children at HSI to experience that same joy while lessening the financial burden on their families.

Back 2 School Bonus: Back 2 School Store co-chairs, seated from left, Kay Salzman and Kim Kramer; standing from left, Melanie Levitan and Karen Secular. They’re holding the gift cards donated to Homeless Solutions, while social distancing and wearing face masks outdoors.

In a statement, HSI expressed how extremely grateful they were for our help:

The generosity of this group is extraordinary. The circumstances this year did not allow for the normal Back 2 School Store they’ve set up in the past; instead they were able to provide almost $8,000 in gift cards so each child could get clothing and supplies to start the year off right.

Last year a teen and his mom saw one of the NCJW-WM volunteers in town. The young man came over to the volunteer with a giant smile and thanked her. He let her know what he had gotten and that he really appreciated someone helping his family. It’s moments like this that make it so rewarding.

We also have NCJW-WM to thank for cooking at the shelter, hosting birthday parties and arts and crafts days.”

Volunteer Kim Kramer says being involved with HSI is fulfilling for all our volunteers. It’s not only the appreciation from the program participants, it’s also the staff. “They are so passionate and committed to what they do and are so incredible to work with. . . . They inspire us.”