The Chautauqua Center Donates 1400 Backpacks to local Schools

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TCC's Sarah Gilbert and Alicia Ekstrom pose with Dan Genoese, Dunkirk Public Schools Director of Student Development who accepted the donation on behalf of his district
TCC's Sarah Gilbert and Alicia Ekstrom pose with Dan Genoese, Dunkirk Public Schools Director of Student Development who accepted the donation on behalf of his district

Staff from The Chautauqua Center (TCC) recently met with representatives from public school districts throughout the county for their 8th annual school supply giveaway. A total of 1400 backpacks filled with school supplies were given to Bemus Point, BOCES, Brocton, Cassadaga, Chautauqua Lake, Clymer, Dunkirk, Falconer, Forestville, Fredonia, Frewsburg, Jamestown, Panama, Pine Valley, Ripley, Sherman, Silver Creek and Westfield.

Chautauqua Center LogoLike last year, TCC made the tough decision to cancel their Family Fun Day where students come onsite to receive their supplies due to safety concerns for the hundreds of attendees under the age of 12 who are not yet able to be vaccinated for Covid-19. Instead, TCC distributed directly to schools where students in need will be given the supplies by school staff. Interested families can contact their school to request one of the backpacks.

Payton Sell, a JPS student volunteer who helped to stuff backpacks earlier this month
Payton Sell, a JPS student volunteer who helped to stuff backpacks earlier this month

“This year, we were able to dramatically increase the number of supplies offered because of a generous donation from a single community member,” explained Sarah Gilbert, TCC marketing specialist. “Richard Forsberg, who is a member of the Jamestown High School class of ’65, reached out to us in the spring to ask how he could help.”

Currently residing in Colorado, Mr. Forsberg hasn’t forgotten his Chautauqua County roots and was eager to give back to his hometown. “I’m proud of Jamestown, and Chautauqua County, and want to help support families in need in the region where I grew up,” said Mr. Forsberg. “Anything to do with education is where my passion is.”

Because of his donation, TCC increased the number of backpacks from 800 in 2020 to 1400 this year. Backpacks are available to students entering Kindergarten through 12th grade, with a variety of sizes, styles and features. Supplies include pocket folders, notebooks, filler paper, pens, pencils, pencil sharpeners, crayons and reusable cloth masks.

“We were thrilled to receive Mr. Forsberg’s donation and can’t thank him enough for what he has done to help local students,” said Michael Pease, CEO.

The annual tradition is part of TCC’s community outreach efforts that provide direct support to the public. The organization is recognized as a leader among community health centers nationwide in part because of their initiatives that reach beyond clinical patient care to help families in need. The health center is open to all, with the majority of TCC patients representing working families, minimum wage earners, and individuals transitioning from a difficult part of their lives to becoming productive members of society. When private and corporate donors make investments in Health Centers like TCC, the community is uplifted. Whether it is a child who now has access to health care and misses less days of school or a grandparent who has recently enrolled in prescription drug coverage. For more information about how to support TCC, or to enroll in services, contact Sarah Gilbert, marketing specialist, at 716-484-4334 or visit tcchealth.org.