Post Eagle Newspaper


Apr 20, 2024

45°F, few clouds
New Jersey

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It’s Much More Than A Backpack

CLIFTON, NJ – The Back2School Outreach project has given the community an opportunity to provide educational tools to at risk children.  The project is organized by Power of One Outreach, Ministries, Inc. and directed by Kim Castellano and Kelly Keil of Clifton.

Educators and counselors working with at risk and working poor families are empowered and equipped by helping children succeed in school, and connecting families to other resources available.  Providing students a quality backpack filled with school supplies has become a bridge to our children’s futures.

During the summer, banners hung on the Clifton Fire Houses to help raise awareness of the program and as drop off locations. Some Firehouses packed backpacks among themselves and added encouraging cards wishing the student a great school year. It’s really important that our kids know that there are people out there that care about them, adds Castellano. I am really proud of our Fire Department.

The Public Library children’s staff stands behind the project every year and understand the impact it’s making on the children. This year, 20 backpacks filled with school supplies were dropped off at the Main Library alone. This has been their most successful year as a drop off location in four years.

First year volunteer and sponsor, Maria Kosmider from CBSK (Clifton Savings Bank) visited local dentists in the community and collected over 100 new tooth brushes, floss, and toothpaste for students. CBSK also brought hundreds of school supplies and food donations that were dropped off at the banks four Clifton branches.

Christine Romanelli, and Frank Cortes from The Diamond Agency located on Allwood Road, Clifton were excited about the project this summer. Seeing an opportunity to impact their community, the agency promoted The Back2School Outreach supply list in their local ads placed in the Clifton Journal Newspaper. The advertising helped raise awareness and encouraged the community to donate items on the list and drop off at their office.

On August 31, 2016 the organizations volunteers came together for their annual PackNSort party that was held at School #12, Clifton. Over 30 volunteers sorted through the thousands of school supplies and food donations that were collected during the summer. Volunteers packed and inspected backpacks and sorted thru kid friendly food donations, which helped stock the school pantry for the first week of school.

Girl Scout Troop # 95322 led by Kristy Wellins of Clifton, assisted volunteers dropping off donations by unloading their cars, and assembling pencil cases. “Having the Girl Scout troop volunteering along side us this year has been a big help for the project”, says Castellano.  “We get to see the girls grow into great leaders as they serve their community”.

Over 275 backpacks filled with school supplies were assembled by the community and local businesses. The backpacks are currently being distributed throughout schools and programs, reaching working poor families who are experiencing economical hardships.  If you are in need of assistance, please contact your school counselor or principal.

On behalf of Power of One Coaching and Outreach Ministries, Inc., we would like to thank all our volunteers, sponsors and donors for their outstanding support and commitment, towards this year’s Back2School Outreach 2016-2017. Special thanks to our City of Clifton Mayor and City Council, Fire Chief, Kevin McCarthy and Joe Vergerosa and the Clifton Fire Department, Clifton Public Library, Clifton Board of Education, Kristy Wellins and Jr Girl Scout Troop#95322, New Vision Pioneers, WOPA (World Organization of Positive Change), Red Hat Angels, Bridge FM Radio 103.1,  Walgreen’s, CSBK (Clifton Savings Bank), Champion Plastics, Lunar Eclips Salon, Dr. Suzi Shulman, The Diamond Agency, and the many Clifton residents who made contributions at the drop off locations.

Every backpack that was donated to the Back2School Outreach this summer reflects ONE child, ONE educator, ONE family, ONE school, ONE community.

Volunteer engagement is growing every year. The commitment is minimal, yet very rewarding.  To volunteer or become a sponsor in the outreach or for more information, please contact Kim Castellano at 201-328-2326 or email her at

Next volunteer opportunity “Hunger Doesn’t Stop” Food Drive starting in October; check their website for supply list and instructions. Your support is needed!

For financial contributions, make checks payable to Power of One CCOM, Inc, mail to Back2School Outreach c/o Power of One CCOM., Inc, PO Box 6080 Clifton, NJ 07015. Tax Exempt # 45-3553999


In photo: Girl Scout Troup # 95322 and Troup #96393 at the Back2School Outreach PackNSort Party held at School #12 Clifton on August 31st.  Pictured left to right- Casey Wellins, Sofia Carrol, Fiona Smyth, Rebecca Coles, Isabella Andruch, Julia and Anna DeBlock and Kim Castellano, Mission Director at Power of One Outreach, among some of the thousands of school supplies and food donations dropped off that day.