Captain Stanley Pierre-Louis said The Salvation Army’s back-to-school distribution at the Jamaica Citadel Corps Community Center in Queens, N.Y., saw a marked increase in families seeking help this year.
“We serve so many people in need in the community of Jamaica and many of them are migrants who came to the country with nothing,” he said. “They have children who are attending school for the first time in America.
“In the past, we served the community, but we didn’t have that many. Due to the number of migrants who have come to the city, the numbers increased tremendously. We had to reach out to donors and other providers in order to have enough school supplies.”
Pierre-Louis said his church partnered with Chase Bank and private donors to meet the needs of 370 families with backpacks and other school supplies on Aug. 30. The migrants came from “all over,” Pierre-Louis said, including Africa, Latin America, Venezuela, Ukraine, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Haiti.
The back-to-school event, similar to several others in the Greater New York Division and around the USA Eastern Territory, also featured hot dogs, juice, water, coffee, and hot chocolate.
“We got to share our faith with the people,” Pierre-Louis said. “It was not only a back-to-school event, but a great time of music and worship songs and food.”
It also was an opportunity to let the public know about children’s music and arts programs, Bible studies, prayer meetings and other youth programs at The Salvation Army in Jamaica, along with Vacation Bible School, Star Lake Camp, and the new Pathway of Hope program being offered at the church.
The day before, on Aug. 29, the church took part in a large back-to-school event put on by the New York Police Department (NYPD) in another part of Queens. The Salvation Army served food, drinks, and promoted the church’s programming.