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Higgins, Johnson and Nowakowski Distribute More Than 300 Backpacks, School Supplies to Families in Need

Aug 31, 2020
Press Release
Volunteers, Nonprofits Supported Event with Fresh Produce Giveaways, Census and Voter Registration, and Free Lunch

Buffalo, NY – After several weeks of collecting donations, Congressman Brian Higgins, Erie County Legislator Howard J. Johnson, and Fillmore District Council Member Mitch Nowakowski hosted a backpack and school supplies giveaway today, August 29th , for hundreds of families in need in the City of Buffalo. As families navigate the new school year remotely, these supplies will give parents and kids additional resources to be successful in continuing their education from home while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to strain school districts and teachers.

The month-long initiative involved a collection of supplies, which began August 3rd and ran until August 21st . Donated supplies included notebooks, number two pencils, markers, crayons, safety scissors, glue sticks, pencil pouches and sharpeners, binders, folders, erasers, rulers, watercolor paint/brushes, backpacks, tissues, and personal hygiene items like soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and combs.

About 315 backpacks were distributed today to hundreds of cars lined up from the Central Terminal as far as Fillmore Avenue. Volunteers from the City of Buffalo, Erie County, the U.S. Census Bureau, Buffalo Public Schools, Buffalo Central Terminal, Open Buffalo, the UNITY Coalition, and the Response to Love Center were on hand to assist with the distribution of more than just backpacks. Participants also received voter registration forms and technical assistance, Census completion information, a free lunch, a box of fresh produce donated by Rooted in Love, Inc., and an art kit assembled by the Albright Knox Art Gallery.

Many of the backpacks given out were donated by the Teacher’s Desk, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to distribute free school supplies to students in need and to provide purpose through volunteerism. The “Pancho Packs” program continues in honor of Buffalo Bills superfan Pancho Billa. Each backpack contains over $130 worth of supplies inside.

“We are pleased to work with Legislator Johnson, Council Member Nowakowski and the Buffalo Central Terminal on this great event. Families were provided with fresh produce, Census and voter registration information was distributed and hundreds of students have supplies for the new year,” said Congressman Brian Higgins.

“Now, more than ever, Buffalo families are struggling. With high unemployment, and more than 30 million students enrolled in free and reduced meal programs, many parents are unable to provide the basic school supplies their children need to be effective. In addition, schools in Buffalo NY are facing severe budget cuts and lack the funding to purchase necessary supplies. This is why I am proud to join with Councilmember Nowakowski and Congressman Higgins on this book bag drive,” said Legislator Howard Johnson.

“To know that we helped hundreds of families today is what being in public service is all about. I was so proud to distribute school supplies at the Central Terminal to families in need, and I know we can make this event even bigger next year. The need is there. These backpacks and supplies will go a long way towards ensuring kids have the tools they need to do their best as adapt to at-home learning,” said Fillmore District Council Member Mitch Nowakowski.

“Joining with the community is part of building a strong future together, a future that includes the reuse of the Central Terminal. We were happy to be involved in this collaboration which highlighted the strength of our community and what we can accomplkish when we stand together,” said Monica Pellegrino-Faix, Executive Director of the Buffalo Central Terminal Restoration Corporation.

“The Teacher’s Desk is honored to do what we can whenever we can to help children in need,” said John Mika, founder of the Teacher’s Desk.