QUEENS, NY – With the start of the school year around the corner, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz encourages members of the public to donate backpacks and school supplies to homeless children as part of “Project: Back to School,” an annual initiative organized by the Coalition for the Homeless.

“About 87,000 New York City schoolkids live in homeless shelters or temporary housing, and not a single school district is spared from this epidemic,” said Borough President KATZ. “Every child deserves a strong start to the school year with proper supplies just like their fellow peer. We urge Queens residents to donate generously toward this drive, and encourage all residents to take advantage of various complimentary back-to-school giveaways throughout the borough in the coming weeks.”

Borough President Katz’s office is accepting backpack and school supply donations between now through September 18th in a drop-off box placed in the lobby of Queens Borough Hall, located at 120-55 Queens Boulevard. Donations dropped off at Queens Borough Hall are anonymous and are not tax-deductible. All donated items received will be distributed to schoolchildren living in homeless shelters to assist them with getting ready for the school year.

“School kids living in homeless shelters must contend with unimaginable levels of stress and hardship, and are at a tremendous disadvantage when trying to keep up with their housed peers in class,” said DAVE GIFFEN, Executive Director of the Coalition for the Homeless, the nation’s oldest advocacy and direct service organization helping homeless men, women and children. “We are so pleased to have Borough President Katz and the caring people of Queens involved in this year’s Project: Back to School. With nearly 24,000 children sleeping in homeless shelters tonight, it is so important that we do all we can to help these young kids achieve academically.”

Shelter life can put additional pressure on school-aged children who find themselves having to cope with insufficient space to complete assignments, long commutes to school every morning and the constant stigma of being homeless. Something as simple as a backpack can make all the difference. That’s why items donated as part of “Project: Back to School” help ensure that everyone can be equipped for the start of school.

In addition to backpacks, the Coalition for the Homeless says other supplies that are much needed by schoolchildren include No. 2 pencils, composition books, pocket folders, calculators, one-inch binders and colored pencils.

Borough Hall is currently the only location in the Borough of Queens where “Project: Back to School” donations are collected this year. It is open Monday through Friday during business hours and can be easily reached by mass transit by taking the E or F subway lines to the Kew Gardens-Union Turnpike station.

Follow Borough President Katz via @melindakatz or www.facebook.com/queensbpkatz