health mind and body

500 backpack giveaway at St. John’s Hospital in Far Rockaway


St. John’s Episcopal Hospital last week provided 500 children with backpacks containing back-to-school supplies including hand sanitizers, face masks, pencils, notebooks, crayons, and other essential items.  

The occasion was the Far Rockaway media center’s fifth annual Community Wellness and Back-to-School event. In past years, the hospital hosted a large community gathering with over 50 vendors, games and music. However, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the community event was reimagined for the second consecutive year.

In addition to picking up their backpacks, parents and guardians were able to schedule their child’s well visits hassle-free on-site.

Faced with the ongoing pandemic, the hospital was determined not to cancel the event, but to once again “reimagine” it instead. Taking into account proven safety standards, the hospital staggered attendance by asking the public to select specific time slots to pick-up their “Grab-And-Go” bags. This helped to ensure order and continue to maintain social distancing.

“While we’re still faced with these challenging times, we wanted to push forward and host this event for the benefit of the community, especially the children,” said Renee Hastick-Motes, vice president of external affairs at St. John’s. “Back-to-school is always an exciting time for kids and we wanted to continue to be a part of that excitement.” 

The hospital raised funds to purchase the school supplies through the donations of hospital staff, community members, local organizations, and the St. John’s Episcopal Hospital Auxiliary.

“We were determined to continue our mission especially during these trying times,” said St. John’s CEO Jerry Walsh. “By seeing the smiles on the faces of families and children I believe that we were able to make a positive impact on their lives.”


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