For both Crowley and Aubry, the giveaway came in response to the dire economic predicaments faced by many low-income families in Queens.
“I think it’s hard for people to make ends meet these days and families are looking to cut corners,” said Crowley. “The message here today is that a child’s education should never be cut.”
Dozens of parents and children attended the giveaway, which was first thought of by Aubry. The idea began circulating via his Facebook page, gaining momentum. Eventually, he contacted Crowley for support.
It was held at Elmcor Youth & Adult Activities, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides youth services for the residents of Elmhurst, Corona and Jackson Heights.
“Community groups, churches, do this kind of thing all the time,” said Aubry. “I just wanted to help out how I can. For young people, going to school with the proper equipment is very important so they can get started right away.”
In total, 80 backpacks were made available for students at the event and distributed based on grade level. Students who were not lucky enough to get a backpack were asked for their contact information so one could be sent to their residence.
Each backpack contained an assortment of school supplies, including markers, crayons, pencils, notebooks, binders, and folders.
“We have to make sure that you are prepared for life, and to be prepared for life, you need an education,” said Crowley. “You can’t get an education without the proper supplies.”
Once the supplies were distributed, children raced to meet their friends and compare bags. Parents, too, were quite thrilled with the results of the giveaway.
“I’m very happy about my son getting a free backpack and things for school,” said Maria Ortiz of Corona, who attended the giveaway with her 9-year-old son. “These things are expensive and this will save me a little, much needed, money.”