LIVINGSTON, NJ — The Essex County chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW/Essex) recently completed its 12th annual—and first-ever mobile—Back 2 School Store (B2SS), distributing backpacks, school supplies, winter coats, warm clothing and more to more than 1,700 children in the Essex County area—the most-ever in the store's history.

“It means so much to all the donors, sponsors and volunteers who make the B2SS happen that we were able to serve the children and families who rely on us and that we did not let the pandemic keep us from making sure this important endeavor was completed,” said Penina Barr, NCJW/Essex President.

Although participating students have previously been able to "shop” in person at the one-day pop-up B2SS, volunteers put together personalized outfits this year based on the children’s preferences, which were submitted to NJCW/Essex with their favorite colors and other style requests.

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Volunteers worked for several days to create personalized bags that were delivered to more than 40 agencies, schools and other organizations for distribution to the kids. 

B2SS committee chairs Lauren Tabak Fass, Rachel Khedouri and Lori Gelman expressed gratitude toward Two Men and a Truck for delivering items from the storage unit to the distribution center at Temple Beth Shalom as well as the Essex County Community Transportation for providing the vans and drivers to make these deliveries possible.

“The store was re-imagined this year, but it got the items kids needed to the families we serve, and that's what really matters,” said Caitlin Higgins Joy, NCJW/Essex Executive Director. “It's amazing what can be accomplished when NCJW/Essex members join together to better the lives of children in our community.”

NCJW/Essex is already working on the 2021 B2SS. To learn more about volunteering as part of this initiative, contact Ellen Staple at

For more information about NCJW/Essex, visit

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