‘Backpacks and Blockbusters’ at community gardens will combine back-to-school supply drives with free movies

New York Restoration Project is organizing movie nights across New York City, some of which include free backpacks and school supply giveaways.
New York Restoration Project

With the first day of school a little over a month away, it’s a good time to start assembling backpacks.

To add a dash of pizzaz to the prep, nonprofit New York Restoration Project and Citizens Financial Group have partnered to host the first-ever “Backpacks and Blockbusters,” a free movie night series at community gardens across New York City. The movie nights start on Friday, Aug. 11, with a few of the dates including free backpacks and school supply giveaways. 

Each giveaway date will have at least 80 backpacks on hand to donate, as well as miscellaneous supplies such as notebooks, pencils, pens, erasers, glue sticks, folders, crayons and colored pencils. The giveaways are intended for students and their families, according to the New York Restoration Project.

The selected movies are “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” “The Super Mario Bros Movie,” “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” “The Wiz,” and “Friday the 13th.”

New York Restoration Project owns and operates 52 community gardens across the five boroughs and organizes free public programming from their green spaces. Lynn Bodnar Kelly, the nonprofit’s executive director, highlighted the community gardens as a perfect place to host movie nights during the summertime. 

“The gardens are the best place to be on a summer night,” Kelly said. “We are proud to help students around the city prepare for the new school year.”

Rebecca O’Connell, the NYC Metro Region executive at Citizens, expressed pride in supporting the city’s neighborhoods through the partnership.

“Young people in our community will receive backpacks and school supplies to help them thrive this coming school year, which is what really makes this initiative special,” O’Connell stated.

Further details will be announced, and all events are listed in the NYRP calendar at nyrp.org/free. New details may be announced closer to the event dates.

The most updated locations, movies, and giveaways include:

New York Restoration Project is organizing movie nights across New York City, some of which include free backpacks and school supply giveaways.New York Restoration Project