A backpack for every incoming kindergartener. Supplies for every fresh face to the Comsewogue School District. It may seem like a tall order, but a local realty office and donations from the community helped make it happen for the second year in a row.
Last year, EXIT Realty Island Elite in Port Jefferson Station started a fundraising drive to buy every incoming kindergartener a backpack for the upcoming school year. Doing it again this year, the realty office helped facilitate the donations of 246 backpacks, enough for every incoming student starting their K-12 journey. The backpacks are also filled with a number of school supplies such as pencils, colored pencils, erasers and markers. While it won’t be everything the student needs throughout the year, it’s a good start.
Jason Furnari, the broker owner of the PJS realty office, said upon opening just a year and a half ago he knew he wanted to support the community in some way. He himself is a Comsewogue alumunus, having graduated in 2003. He also said it’s a continued legacy of Joe Rella, the popular former superintendent who passed away this year in February. Rella was Furnari’s chorus teacher in middle school.
“I really like the area we’re in, so we decided to give back to the Comsewogue School District,” he said. “It’s always about giving back to people and doing good for people, and that’s what the community’s about, it’s really family based.”
The realty office set up an Amazon wish list and posted it to community social media groups and in notices around their office and elsewhere in the local area as well. All who participated would go online and order the items they wanted for delivery to the Port Jeff Station office. Some community members also donated some lightly used backpacks from students who have already aged past the early grade levels.
The backpacks are a great boon, but especially in a time like this where so many have been financially hit by the pandemic, having to not worry about at least one kid’s school supplies can be a big help.
Comsewogue superintendent, Jennifer Quinn, said the backpacks do a world of good for incoming students.
“We live in such a great community — we have so many businesses willing to help our school district and EXIT Realty is one of those,” Quinn said.
The realty office has also supported two graduating seniors with $1,000 scholarships both last year and this year. 2020 graduates and siblings Tricia Sandhala and Arav Sandhala were recipients of this year’s awards.
Furnari said the office will continue with their backpack and scholarship donations into the future.
“We’re really excited to start the school year and end the year helping out the young generation coming in and those on their way off to college,” he said.