By KATIE HOOS
In the spirit of giving this holiday season, schools in Westchester County will participate in Super Kids-Super Sharing, a program where gently used books, toys, school supplies and sports equipment are collected and given to underserved children in the area.
On Friday, Dec. 6, West-chester County Executive Rob Astorino announced area schools will team up with the National Football League and this year’s New York/New Jersey Super Bowl Host Committee to join the charitable effort.
“Super Kids-Super Sharing fits naturally with Westchester’s commitment to giving back,” Astorino said. “Together, I know we will show that Westchester has the heart, the drive and the spirit to make this a huge success. Our students never cease to amaze me when it comes to volunteerism.”
Super Kids-Super Sharing is an event held every year in the Super Bowl host city.
Public and private schools in New Jersey and New York were invited to participate since MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. will host Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 2, 2014.
The Super Bowl Host Committee, partnering with the NFL Environmental Program, reached out to hundreds of schools in the New York Metro area to kick-start the event. Every private and public school in Westchester County was invited to participate.
Diana Blank, community service advisor for grades 9 and 10 at Briarcliff High School, said Varsity Athletes Against Substance Abuse will be in charge of the Briarcliff program and will send out communication through daily announcements, posters and Facebook posts before the Christmas holiday break.
Participation in the program is completely voluntary, but Blank said, “Generally, our kids like to do community service.”
Tuckahoe High School is also planning to participate in the Super-Kids Super Sharing program.
Starting in early January, students will gather gently-used sports equipment and books and place them in collection boxes at their schools.
Jack Groh, director of the NFL Environmental Program, said children should bring in books for all ages, from picture books to a young adult reading level, as well as usable sports equipment and school supplies.
On Jan. 16, 2014, event coordinators and student representatives from area schools will then come together in Riverbank State Park in Harlem to sort the items and generate momentum for the upcoming Super Bowl. Representatives from the New York Giants, New York Jets, NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee and local legislators will be at the event.
Groh said he hopes to get active players, former players, cheerleaders and mascots to join the event.
After the items are sorted, they will be distributed to schools in New York and New Jersey that are in need of supplies. Diana Costello, a Westchester County spokesperson who is helping to organize Super Kids-Super Sharing, said, “Where they are collected is where they’ll stay. It’s about helping our neighbors in need.”
The Riverside Park Jan. 16 event will also feature the “Huddle Shuddle,” an interactive exhibit where kids can test their football skills. The exhibit also showcases the Vince Lombardi Trophy, the award given to the winning Super Bowl team, and mock New York Giants and New York Jets locker rooms.
The Super Kids-Super Sharing program has been implemented by Super Bowl host city committees for the past 14 years and has collected hundreds of thousands of items. Groh estimates 10,000 books and pieces of sports equipment are donated annually through the program.
Groh said Super Kids-Super Sharing is not only a charitable event, but also promotes recycling within the community.
“It’s a smart strategy to transfer the items to where they’re needed,” he said. “They could have very little value to you, but could be of tremendous value to someone else. This program is a way to transfer items to places where they are needed most.”
Costello said the holiday season is the perfect time to start planning for the Super Kids-Super Sharing program, since many people have extra time off of work and school to go through unused items in their homes.
“The holidays are naturally a time to reflect and give back to others if you’re able,” Costello said. “The people of Westchester are always looking for ways to help.”
A representative from Tucka-hoe High School could not be reached for comment as of press time.