Backpacks filled with school supplies are being distributed to new refugee and Puerto Rican students now attending Buffalo Public schools. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says The Teacher's Desk received a $3,000 donation from Microsoft for its "A Good Start" backpack program.
Inside The Teachers Desk on Northampton Street at Main Street in Buffalo volunteers from Microsoft were helping to stuff backpacks with all kinds of school supplies. The Teacher's Desk provides free supplies to teachers and students.
The Teacher's Desk volunteer Robin Penberthy submitted the 'winning' wish at Microsoft's Walden Galleria "Wish Machine".
“So I went to the Microsoft Store at the Galleria and 30-seconds later I had a video in their wonderfully-established system. 100-percent shocked – I mean it was so easy to do. I probably spent five minutes in the store in total in doing this wish,” explained Penberthy.
“For me it shows I’m doing the right thing, but we’re all here to give back, if I can give back in this way – what an honor. I’m blessed for sure,” remarked John Mika, Founder of The Teacher’s Desk.
Teacher's Desk Founder John Mika said the Microsoft donation allows them to provide an additional 300-backpacks for students from Puerto Rico displaced by Hurricane Maria.
“We thought that gosh at least we’re going to give them a good start. They have a possibility when they have a backpack filled with school supplies. I went down to the reception center, where the children come in to sign up – over on Elk Street – and they have nothing. You can imagine – from countries that have very little to begin with coming in after a storm – just desperate,” Mika noted.
Mika tells WBFO News the backpacks will be filled with core school supplies.
“Also, for this time of year, we are giving them hats and gloves. One of our wonderful donors gave us that – the Kids in Need Foundation – and all kinds of things – pens, pencils, markers, crayons, coloring books – all kinds of things to put smiles on their faces,” said Mika.
A total of 700-backpacks are being distributed this school year to refugee and Puerto Rican students. So far, nearly 500-students arrived from Puerto Rico to attend Buffalo schools displaced by the hurricanes.
“I got an email last night on our Facebook from one of our teachers, first grade teacher at one of the Buffalo schools – that said ‘the smiles on their faces and how they grip these backpacks says it all’ – that’s huge for us,” Mika declared.