Department of Human Services | DHS Employees Give to the Back-to-School Backpack Drive for Homeless Families
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For Immediate Release:
August 29, 2008

For Information, Contact:
Pam Ronan, (609) 292-3703

TRENTON - New Jersey Department of Human Services' (DHS) Commissioner Jennifer Velez today announced that DHS employees donated 110 backpacks, complete with outfits, shoes and school supplies, to children in the Trenton area.
For the 5th consecutive year, the DHS Annual Back-to-School Backpack Drive was held at DHS to benefit homeless families receiving services from HomeFront, a Mercer County organization that helps families break the cycle of poverty.

“Participants receive the child's first name, age, clothing and shoe size, so that this becomes a personal experience in helping prepare a child for the school year,” said Commissioner Velez.

The DHS employee donation this year of 110 backpacks, surpassed last year's donation of 75. “Our employees are eager to participate, and we were so proud to learn that our backpacks were the highest number donated to HomeFront from a single agency, ” said Velez.

The children receiving the backpacks range in age from three to 17 years. Some employees request the name of a child who is close in age to their own, so that their own child can participate by helping with the selection of clothes. Peers have an idea of what is in style, and it is a learning opportunity for children to experience the importance of helping others. Some of the employees also enjoy writing notes to the child receiving the backpack, to say that they hope they like the clothes, or to wish the child a successful school year.

“Support in donating backpacks filled with first day necessities is tremendous,” said Connie Mercer, HomeFront's executive director. “Our children are very excited and the moms are so appreciative.”

DHS employees participated from ten offices, including: the central office of DHS, the Divisions of Developmental Disabilities, Medical Assistance and Health Services, Mental Health Services, Deaf and Hard of Hearing; the Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the Offices of Early Childhood Education and Prevention of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities; Green Brook Regional Center and New Lisbon Developmental Center.
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