One hundred and twenty-five bags filled with frisbees, jump ropes, soccer balls, grow-your-own-garden kits, sunflower seeds, playing cards, chalk, and puzzle books were distributed to families to keep youngsters busy during the summer amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“The bags have lots of fun stuff for everyone to enjoy,” said Andrea Vitale, co-founder of Alexandra’s Playground.
Vitale’s nonprofit spearheaded the initiative in partnership with the New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC). Her nonprofit paid for the bags and their content. Each bag costs approximately $75.
Some families came in cars while others walked-up at the Great Falls Youth Center on Front Street to collect their “Just Play! bags.”
“This year in the summer, they couldn’t go out anywhere,” said Emdadul Haque, who brought four of his relatives, youngsters between 3-9 years old, to the distribution. “They’re actually giving us resources so that kids could stay home and be occupied.”
Local nonprofits and the city have scaled back their recreation programs for young people because of the pandemic.
Haque, 19, is a member of the Paterson Youth Council. He is heading to Montclair State University to study computer science. Play bags were distributed to families already participating in other NJCDC programs.
“We’re amidst this great pandemic, but it hasn’t dampened our spirits nor that of our partner Alexandra’s Playground,” said Bob Guarasci, head of NJCDC. “During times like this, we have to be creative to help kids be kids.”
The bags are designed for children ages 5-12.
Alexandra’s Playground, founded by Andrea and Michael Vitale, celebrates the brief life of their daughter Alexandra and her spirit of play by building playgrounds throughout the United States and the world.
The pandemic has made it difficult for children to access playgrounds, so the nonprofit is bringing play to the youngsters through distribution of the bags. The nonprofit has distributed 550 bags to families throughout the region.
Email: [email protected]