Their summer mission: collecting school supplies for the homeless
The dropbox in the Bayport-Blue Point Library entryway on Friday was brimming with six-piece backpack sets, spiral notebooks and Crayola crayon boxes.
Its sign, “Backpacks and School Supplies for the Homeless,” was decorated in glitter hearts.
“This box has been filled and emptied several times already,” explained Janet Draffin, Junior Bayport-Blue Point Civic Association mentor and Bayport resident, who guided the initiative. “Since we started, the library has gotten the most supplies for us.”
Supplies from the library and other drop points will help 100 homeless kids attending the new school year. It is the fourth year the Junior Bayport-Blue Point Civic Association pitched in to collect school supplies for homeless students.
Over the summer, Julia Drago, a Bayport-Blue Point High School senior and president of the Junior Bayport-Blue Point Civic Association, went with fellow members to local businesses as well as the library, pitching the program and asking if they would sign on by adding a box and/or contributing.
“We got Bayport Flower Houses and People’s United Bank to participate,” Drago said. Also, Drago’s front porch served as a collection site. “Friends and family donated too, so we purchased supplies,” she added.
“There were also a couple of kids that utilized their front porches, too,” Draffin said nodding.
Draffin works for Suffolk County’s Department of Social Services as an administrator for client benefits and has mentored the young civic members since 2015. “The students asked me about the project,” Draffin said. “There are about 400 to 500 families in shelters in the area. Some children don’t even have a pencil or someone telling them to do their homework.”
Drago joined the junior civic in 2016 following her brother Peter’s lead.
“I’m very into helping other people,” she said. “It’s not all about yourself and this really assists people who don’t have what I do.”
Draffin said the junior civic started out with seven and has increased to over 60 teens. “They don’t come to every meeting, but it’s a good group of kids,” she said. Projects include a spring cleanup, where the students pick an area near the high school and the railroad and pick up garbage.
Drago said she loves visiting the Long Island State Veterans Home in Stony Brook.
“I like being around older people, listening to their stories and being in a different environment,” she explained. “Also, they’re stuck there and haven’t been exposed to our age group.”
(There’s a grateful, grumpy humor at large here. Drago got kicked out of a Connect Four game one time because she was winning so much.)
As for the library’s participation, “we provided a drop-off point, but they did the work,” said BBP Library head of Children’s Services Gail Silsbe, as she went to help Draffin and Drago unload the latest supply collection.
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