Backpacks at The Loisaida Center

Trinity's Neighborhood Support: The Many Blessings of Backpacks

Trinity Church Wall Street is working with its community partners in lower Manhattan to help students and their families kick off the new school year with backpacks, 4,500 of them, filled with school supplies.

The Rev. Michael Bird blesses backpacks at The Loisaida Center on September 6, 2023
Students, family members, and staff of The Loisaida Center gather for the backpack blessing.

As the New York City public schools open this week, Trinity Vicar, the Rev. Michael Bird, blessed backpacks at The Loisaida Center on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, with students from the local community and family members taking part. And at a time when the cost of going back to school is a financial strain for many families, those particular backpacks are a blessing in themselves.

Avenue C and 9th Street in Manhattan
Trinity Church Wall Street's Neighborhood Support team works with four neighborhoods in Manhattan, including the Lower East Side.

Loisaida is one of the partner agencies working with Trinity’s Neighborhood Support team to meet the needs of community members in lower Manhattan, specifically neighborhoods south of 14th Street.

The backpacks are filled with supplies appropriate for the students who will receive them, whether those students are in elementary school, middle school, or high school.

“Back to school is an exciting time, but it’s also a major financial expense for many families, especially those with several children,” said Lorelei Vargas, Trinity’s Chief Community Impact Officer.

“Providing backpacks and filling them with the supplies the New York City public schools require lifts at least some of that burden from students and their families.”

The financial burden is significant. According to the New York State Office of State Comptroller, the average back-to-school costs for each student amounts to almost $700.

The calculator required for middle and high school students in NYC Public Schools
The calculator required for middle and high school students in the New York City public schools costs about 80 dollars.

“The cost of the middle school and high school backpacks is even higher because of the high-quality calculator those students are required to have," said Alejandro Epifanio, Executive and Creative Director of The Loisaida Center.

Family member picks up backpack at The Loisaida Center
Promise Gladys Jimenez of The Loisaida Center helps a family member pick a student backpack.

The backpack distribution went on all day Wednesday at The Loisaida Center. Some students chose their own backpacks, but often parents and grandparents handled the pick-up. Loisaida is only one of 17 locations distributing those aforementioned 4,500 backpacks, provided by Trinity Church Wall Street.

“Going back to school with the proper supplies is critical to a child’s education,” said Lorelei Vargas.

“These backpacks are the first step toward a fantastic school year.”

Subscribe for Social Justice Updates

Keep informed about ongoing justice work at Trinity Church Wall Street.