Christa LauriAug 24, 2017, 5:47 pmAug 25, 2017, 6:04 am

Teens fill hundreds of backpacks with school essentials for students in need

This Port Chester charity is building community while helping local students in need

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Students across the country are preparing for another school year, and 16-year-old Melissa Ramondelli is painfully aware of the expenses that go into getting the right tools for the classroom.

“I go shopping with my mom for supplies and it's so expensive. And it's hard because not everyone can afford it," Ramondelli said.

The New Rochelle teen was one of several teenaged volunteers who gathered supplies for kids who can't afford to buy their own at the Sharing Shelf on Thursday.

The Sharing Shelf in Port Chester enlists dozens of volunteers throughout the summer, including teenagers, to pack and help distribute all of the donated new supplies to some 30 Westchester school districts. The supplies are going to students from pre-k through high school.

Nearly a decade ago, Deb Blatt started the Sharing Shelf which collects, sorts and distributes gently used clothing throughout the year to needy children. Her backpack drive is an extension of the Sharing Shelf's mission.

“Unfortunately we see an increase in the demand for these backpacks but the level of participation is increased. Families, corporate groups are stepping up to give back,” Blatt said.

Teen and parent volunteers have helped collect 1,100 backpacks which will be distributed and delivered through case workers, respecting the privacy and dignity of the families in need.

The teens may not know who they're helping, but with each hour of volunteer time, they're becoming more and more aware of the value of service to others.

Gerri Goldberg of White Plains got her kids involved at a young age because she feels it serves an important lesson to her children.

"By being involved today, our back pack drive empowers young people, it gives them a sense of responsibility," Goldberg said. “I think the Sharing Shelf plays a very big role in creating future donors and philanthropists."

Not only does the Sharing Shelf promote youth volunteerism, it also supports local children in need, one backpack at a time.

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