YONKERS, N.Y. – Omar Ranginwala says a few school supplies may not seem like a lot to most people, but it can make a big difference to some families.
“There's a lot of teachers who give out of their own pockets because they see students coming in and they don't even have a school bag or notebook or very basic essentials,” he said. “That's what we're trying to offer them.”
Ranginwala was one of about 25 volunteers from the Islamic Circle of North America passing out 600 free backpacks with school supplies at the Andalusia School in Yonkers on Saturday. The Walnut Street school was buzzing with activity as parents picked up supplies and kids excitedly went through their new backpacks.
ICNA is an American Muslim organization which seeks to better society through social services, outreach and education. Ranginwala explained Saturday's event was rooted in several Islamic tenets.
“Our faith teaches us to be excellent neighbors and to help people in need,” he said. “It also promotes education.”
The ICNA's giveaway was held through the country, with a number of giveaways held in the New York City metropolitan area. Each backpack contained a notebook, pencils, pens, scissors, a sharpener, a ruler, crayons and highlighters.
“We're hopefully going to get rid of all the bags today,” Volunteer Shakaib Jamal said.
Jamal noted the national event started in Yonkers almost four years ago. The giveaway expanded to 10 locations the following year and then became popular throughout the country. Jamal said the idea is so popular that the ICNA expects to give away 30,000 bags of school supplies this year.
Ranginwala said the group might hold an additional giveaway in the near future.