Students Raise Money to Donate Backpacks to Newark School

Members of the Pediatric Club.  From left, Erica Chillemi, Erica Maire and club president Eric Reitmeyer.

Before the pandemic, the RSDM pediatric club looked forward to visiting Essex County schools with goodie bags and lessons designed to teach kids about oral health.

COVID-19 made in-person visits impossible, but they still found a way to spread the word about brushing and flossing and support local children during lockdowns and uncertain times.

The club raised more than $500 for Operation Backpack, which allows them to buy and fill backpacks for students at the Elliot Street Elementary School in Newark. They were connected to the school through Jersey Cares, which coordinates volunteer efforts statewide.

“It’s not the same as what we normally do, but we tried not to let COVID ruin everything for us,’’ said Eric Reitmeyer, who is club president.

The club’s goal is to raise $1,000 within the next few weeks to buy high-quality backpacks and fill them with supplies, including oral hygiene instructions, toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss.

Club members will drop off the backpacks with school directors. But they eventually hope to meet the recipients in person when the pandemic subsides.

They also hope to make the backpack effort an annual tradition, said club vice-president Chaesun Lee.

“We’d like to create a platform for this to continue,’’ she said. “Maybe find another elementary school also and expand.’’

You can give to Operatioan Backpack by contacting Eric Reitmeyer at ER569@SDM.RUTGERS.EDU and
Chaesun Lee: CL800@SDM.RUTGERS.EDU

You can also donate via Venmo at:
@ERICA-MAIRE (click on caps and gown picture)
Please send with “AAPD Donations” under descriptions