If you saw some happy faces outside PS188 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan on Wednesday, April 20, the answer could be summed up in two words: State Bags. The three-year-old maker of quality backpacks employed their PacMen and PacWomen team of high-spirited philanthropists to visit these underprivileged school kids, aged K through 5th grades, entertain them with dances and games, motivate them with speech, and equally importantly, give each and every one of the 200 kids present a brand-new State Bag filled with essential supplies from other donors, including much-needed socks.
And if you think this is one-time-only gesture, you couldn’t be more wrong. State Bag’s owners, Scot Tatelman and his wife Jacqueline, coordinate bag drops all year, and plan to give away up to 30,000 bags this summer throughout the United States. Next month, the company is partnering with Twitter to do another bag drop in Manhattan, this time (for the first time) at an all-girls public school. “It’s going to be a serious display of girl power,” says Jacqueline, a mother of two and an alumna of Saks Fifth Avenue, Henri Bendel, Scoop, and Kenneth Cole.
Scot, a Boston native, has been dedicated to philanthropy for over a decade, first collaborating with the Mark Wahlberg Foundation and the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester to create Camp Northbound, a residential camp for youth growing up in the inner cities, and later founding Camp Power for kids growing up in New York City’s most violent neighborhoods. It’s these experiences which led both to the creation of State Bags and its bag drop program.
“When I started my non-profit eight years ago and Camp Power, I saw kids carrying trash bags full of their stuff every day, and it just didn’t feel right. I knew I had to do something positive for the kids in these populations,” he says.
Adds Jacqueline: “We actually made bags to give away before we had product to sell. And now to be able to both is living our dream.”