ShareThis Page
Penn Hills

Penn Hills woman collecting, donating backpacks filled with school supplies

Dillon Carr
| Monday, July 30, 2018, 4:06 p.m.
A table displays some of the backpacks that children received during Jessica Gentile’s school supplies drive in August 2017.
A table displays some of the backpacks that children received during Jessica Gentile’s school supplies drive in August 2017.
A poster advertising Jessica Gentile’s backpack and school supplies drive in August 2017.
A poster advertising Jessica Gentile’s backpack and school supplies drive in August 2017.

When Jessica Gentile set out to equip school-age children with backpacks stuffed with school supplies, she started with a goal of 25.

But when the community caught wind of her efforts, that number quickly grew.

“It was just a small idea but when I reached out to local businesses, so many said they wanted to donate to the cause,” said Gentile, 29, of Penn Hills. Around 300 backpacks filled with school supplies later, “it became a big thing.”

This year, Gentile is aiming even higher. She’s hoping to distribute 400 backpacks at this year’s giveaway, set to take place from 2 to 5 p.m. Aug. 11, at Faith Community Church, 501 Jefferson Road. Gentile said there will be face painting and other activities for children, food and drinks and a raffle.

“I definitely want to beat last year,” she said.

Gentile has three children, two of whom attend school in Penn Hills. The third is a toddler.

“School supplies are expensive. I know a lot of people struggle to buy them,” Gentile said.

The first collection was such a success that local nonprofit Bring Out the Best Project offered to help, Gentile said. The organization will provide volunteers to help with the event in addition to donating backpacks and supplies.

“Whatever she needs,” said Shawn O’Mahony, BOB Project founder. O’Mahony said Gentile is part of the organization’s newly formed junior board, an arm of the nonprofit aimed at equipping young people who are already involved in community service.

“We’re always looking for young people who are doing good things in the community, and Jessica really stood out,” he said.

Residents interested in donating backpacks filled with school supplies for children age 13 and younger have until Aug. 10 to drop items off at one of two locations: Pep Boys at 3475 William Penn Highway, or S&T Bank at 12262 Frankstown Road.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, dcarr@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dillonswriting.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me