EAST ORANGE, NJ — The East Orange General Hospital Employee Council and Applebee’s restaurant in Kearney have helped more than 125 area school children head back to school with free backpacks stuffed with notebooks, pens and other essentials.

The backpack giveaway was part of the recent back-to-school event at EOGH’s East Pavilion. The event also included arts and crafts and other community-supported activities for children of hospital employees as well as children in the community.

“This was our first back-to-school event, but we hope to sponsor the event each year,” said Gary Miles, an emergency medical technician and vice president of the hospital employee council.

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The EOGH Employee Council is a partnership between hospital management and hospital employees. The council sponsors many activities, such as distributing Thanksgiving baskets and creating a community Christmas party as well as working with Essex County on other events.

“We come together with the community and corporate sponsors to support our employees in need as well as families in the community,” Miles said.

At the back-to-school evening event, Applebee’s in Kearny provided the backpacks. T-shirts supporting the NFL Play 60 program, which encourages children to get an hour of physical activity each day, were distributed. East Orange Public Library handed out “book marks” and helped young people sign up for library cards. In addition, the East Orange Dental Clinic, run by the City of East Orange, gave away toothbrushes and information about dental care.

Another corporate sponsor was Home Depot, which provided materials for students to build craft boxes for pens, pencils or jewelry. The East Orange Police Department and the East Orange Fire Department also were present to provide safety information and talk with students.

Mark Smith of Joi’s Angels organized activities at the event and also distributed many back-to-school gifts to students.

Martin Bieber, Interim President and CEO of East Orange General, said the event reflects the hospital’s connection to the surrounding communities. “At East Orange General Hospital, we believe that our jobs extend beyond the walls of our hospital,” he said.

About East Orange General Hospital: 

East Orange General Hospital is East Orange’s largest private employer and Essex County’s only independent, fully accredited, acute-care hospital.  Serving the community for more than a century, East Orange General recently expanded its services and is continually adding new equipment and programs to provide the highest level of quality and compassionate patient care.  Specialty areas include: Same Day Surgery, Physical Rehabilitation, Behavioral Health, Family Health, Emergency Medicine, Outpatient Hemodialysis, Hyperbaric/Wound Management, Vascular and Medical/Surgical Services.