For a child transitioning from kindergarten to first grade, there’s nothing more exciting than receiving a new backpack with school supplies. For households below the poverty line, this excitement is tarnished by cost. Today, you can help a child smile and run happily to school.
Meir Panim joined forces with Amidar, Israel’s largest housing assistance network providing school supplies to children in need across the country. The pilot project initiated last year out of Meir Panim’s Or Akiva Youth Centers raised more than 137,000 NIS, followed by volunteers who compassionately stuffed 1,350 backpacks.
“It may sound like a drop in the bucket, but we know this is one tangible thing we can do to make kids feel proud and feel just like everybody else,” Mimi Rozmaryn, Meir Panim’s Director of Global Development, said.
“When kids don’t have new supplies, they come to school feeling bad and on the wrong foot. Kids are smart and realize when they are at a disadvantage,” she added.
This seemingly small act of kindness has an enormous impact.
“In Israel, kids are usually thrown into a sink or swim situation. Many also come from single-parent family homes. We want to give them an extra leg up,” Rozmaryn added.
A study by the Connecticut Commission for Children, for example, indicates that twice as many low-income parents suffer from depression. That by itself will make it difficult for them to have the foresight to sit their child down and help them navigate their new academic routine. The study also shows that over a third of kindergarteners are not ready to begin elementary school.
As such, Meir Panim is looking ahead to help these children while they’re still young and can sooner have the tools necessary to be tomorrow’s leaders.
While the non-profit may be known for their restaurant-style soup kitchens, this initiative is just one of the many ways Meir Panim aims to restore dignity to those in poverty.
“This initiative is directly related to our mission,” Rozmaryn concluded. “We see kids who are at risk all the time and go down the wrong path, so want to help guide toward success at an early age.”