Family and Children’s Service Reading Buddies Backpack Project a Community Effort

Long Branch, NJ – Some 600 local school children started the school year off right, equipped and ready to learn, thanks to the generosity of dozens of individuals, corporations and area businesses who donated to this year’s Reading Buddies Backpack Project, an annual program operating in schools in underserved communities throughout Monmouth County. Administered through Family and Children’s Service (FCS), a nonprofit organization serving Monmouth County individuals and families in need for more than 100 years, the Reading Buddies Backpack Project provides new backpacks filled with much-needed school supplies to elementary school students who participate in FCS’ Reading Buddies program.


A young student at Red Bank Primary School carries her new backpack through the halls.

“It’s important for children to start the school year on equal footing,” says FCS Manager of Volunteer Services Samantha White. “New school supplies level the playing field for each child, and more importantly, send students back to school with the confidence, enthusiasm and ability to concentrate on what is most important – learning!”

This year the agency distributed nearly $12,000 in backpacks and supplies to 11 elementary schools in Bradley Beach, Port Monmouth, Middletown, West Long Branch, Freehold, Keyport and Asbury Park, a figure that has tripled in the past three years as the need escalated.

Volunteers pack backpacks at Family & Children's Service's Long Branch headquarters

White credit’s the project’s continued success to the generosity of FCS’ individual and community partners who donated money and supplies, as well as the many FCS volunteers who diligently sorted through hundreds of new notebooks, scissors, paper, and pens to fill each backpack in time for the start of the school year.

Contributors to this year’s Reading Buddies Backpack Project included: Staples®; Panera®; Old Navy®; NJ Natural Gas®; Wells Fargo®; Brookdale Community College; Jersey Shore Woman’s Club; Women’s Club of Colts Neck; United Way of Monmouth County; Red Bank Rotary Foundation; Wayside United Methodist Church; All Saints’ Memorial Church, Navesink; St. Anslem’s Church, Wayside; and employees of Whole Foods, Middletown and the Banana Republic Factory Store.

For more information about FCS’ Reading Buddies Backpack Project, please contact Samantha White, Manager of Volunteer Services at 732-222-9111.