The feeling of a fresh start each new school year often begins for a child as they pick out new shoes, afirst day of school outfit, and a backpack, brimming with supplies from their class list.

“For children who are homeless or live in poverty locally, having all of these new items goes a long way to building their confidence to take on a new year” said Chis Marchetti, Director of HomeFront’s Joy, Hopes & Dreams children’s program.“It gives a kid a fresh start to begin school on the right foot like everyone else.”

HomeFront’s Back To School drive is one piece of the nonprofit’s comprehensive services model to help local families break the cycle of poverty.HomeFront’s mission is to harness the community’s resources to ease the immediate pain of homelessness and provide all the tools necessary for families to become self-sufficient.To that end, HomeFront provides dignified shelter, manages affordable housing, and provides homelessness prevention funds that last year ensured approximately 515 people had a safe roof over their heads.

In addition, HomeFront has a high school equivalency andjob readiness program; distributes food, furniture, and household essentials; and provides children’s programs and case management for local families who are homeless or in need.

“HomeFront was like a supplementary piece to school” said Essence Scott, an adult who received help from HomeFront’s Back to School drive as a child. “There were things because of living in the motels and below the poverty line, that we couldn’t get. HomeFront help leveled the playing field. It made it like ‘ok, I can work with this,’ from Back to School, to trips to see plays and do art, to food.With the Back To School stuff, I felt cool, like I didn’t have to come in school will ill-fitted clothing. I felt that, especially the older you get, there are more eyes and more people paying attention, so the more you stand out and the easier it is for people to bully you. Being able to come to school with new clothing and school supplies, meant a lot.”

Community members interested in helping HomeFront reach its goal of preparing 2,000 children to return to school ready to learn can sign up to sponsor a child(ren) or start a collection drive atwww.homefrontnj.orgor emailhomefront@homefrontnj.org. HomeFront is requesting all items byAugust 16, so the nonprofit can distribute them to our students before the first day of school.

Submitted by HomeFront.

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