Backpacks were stuffed, hairlines were trimmed and vaccines were administered at Glenfield Park on Sunday, during Montclair Sentinels 16-87’s 14th annual school supply giveaway.
The Sentinels, an association of Montclair police of color, and other community sponsors teamed up to provide supplies and an afternoon of fun and community for kids, Detective Anjanette Sanders said. Sanders is the Montclair school district’s sole resource officer, and the coordinator of the event this year.
“It’s important to have an event like this so we can make sure that no child goes to school without anything,” Sanders said. “We love each other so we just want to spread that positivity and make sure all the kids get whatever they need.”
The event featured face painting, games and music, all to get kids excited to return to school, Sanders said.
“We just want them to be safe and have a great year,” Sanders said.
Rising seventh grader at Buzz Aldrin Middle School Camila Chavarria said she heard about the event from the local education nonprofit Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence, which worked with Essex County to bring its mobile vaccination clinic to the event.
“I got notebooks, pencils, a backpack and a book,” Chavarria said. “I am excited for school to start.”
Sanders said 240 backpacks with school supplies were picked up, with none left over at the end of the event. The giveaway was supported by many donors, but the largest were the Placek Family, the Silver Family Foundation and Applegate Farm, she said. Haircuts were provided for free to students by Keycuts, and music was by DJ Moore. In all, 28 sponsor groups brought volunteers.
Essex County spokesman Anthony Puglisi said 46 vaccines were administered during the event.
“Anything more than one and we’ve done a great job,” Essex County nurse Manoucheka Giles said. “And hopefully we’ll see more people before the day is over.”
The county had also tested eight people for COVID-19, Giles said.
Through the support of an anonymous donor, MFEE guaranteed $100 to the first 50 people to register for and follow through with full vaccination — whether two injections of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, or one of Johnson & Johnson. MFEE members said they’d follow up with those who registered to confirm vaccination and distribute the incentives.
Montclair Department of Health nursing director Margaret Brodowski said the event was a good opportunity to share information about resources that the department provides.
“We want to reach all the populations in our community and share with them what we have to offer,” Brodowski said. “After this year when we were so locked up, it’s a pleasure to be out here.”