Unions Pitch In To Set Up ‘Back 2 School Store’

By on August 8, 2017

From Labor Tribune:  Eighteen volunteers from six building trades unions and the Missouri AFL-CIO provided the manpower last week to help the National Council of Jewish Women, St. Louis Chapter (NCJW), ready their annual “Back 2 School Store” that last Sunday provided some 1,500 underserved children with school supplies and clothing to help launch their new school year.

Organized by Missouri AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Jake Hummel, whose wife, St. Louis Alderwoman Sara Martin, is a NCJW volunteer, the union members helped with setting up the store and the more labor-intensive tasks of building dressing rooms for the children to try on clothes, moving and unloading heavy boxes and helping NCJW volunteers organize clothes and school supplies and set up the shopping tables.

Laid out like a department store at Temple Israel in west St. Louis County, the children, aided by an adult volunteer, “shop” for:

  • Clothing items: new school outfit complete with shirt, pants, shoes, package of socks and underwear, winter coat, gloves and hat.
  • School items: a backpack filled with school supplies, including new books and a variety of personal care items.

Since the program was launched in 2001, almost 13,000 elementary school children have been served. The names are provided by some 45 social agencies, churches and synagogues. All the clothes and products are brand new, donated by a host of companies with fill-in items purchased throughout the year with donations.


“Our goal is to get kids excited about their first day of school and to help them feel good about themselves. It’s all about the children’s self esteem and helping them successfully start their educational year,” said NCJW Executive Director Ellen Alper.

“We are really pleased to be able to help,” said Hummel. “The manpower we provide to help set up the store is a vital part of getting this great effort off the ground. Thanks to all the union volunteers. They were great at doing the heavy chores, which made a big difference for the effort.

“This is only one of so many examples where our unions throughout the state step up to help a huge number of organizations and charities,” he added. “Giving back is in our union DNA.”

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About Dede Hance