RENSSELAER, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Justin Ko says it wasn’t easy opening one restaurant, then two in the height of the pandemic, but the overwhelming Capital Region love has him inspired to pass along that love in the form of school supplies for local kids.

“I think it’s from the support that we weren’t expecting during the pandemic, because everyone was just talking about how restaurants were closing. We had all this negative news just constantly in our face daily,” he explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton. “So seeing the joy we could bring to people just by giving them good food and how much people supported our business, yeah it really made me want to give back.”

A back to school block party August 27 and 28 in Rensselaer’s Riverfront Park will be the first big community outreach hosted by Son of Egg, in collaboration with partners Titan Athletes and Regeneron. Ko says he chose supporting education because that’s what this community needs most.

“Just talking with the city and stuff, they mentioned that a very high percentage of Rensselaer residents are low-income families,” Ko says.

“By giving them a running start to their school year, they can have that extra leg up to make sure they have what they need to make it a successful school year and ultimately have a better Capital Region for all,” adds Emily Lang Anastasio, the marketing director for the Capital District YMCA.

Lang Anastasio says the economy’s downturn is reflected in the demand for relief come back to school time, which is why the YMCA is happy to lend a helping hand donating supplies left over from its Running Start Supply Drives.

“We’ve had a number of parents just cry, and especially so this year more than ever because of inflation, because of the cost of gas, we’ve seen a massive increase in the need in our community,” she says.

These organizers say they hope to stuff 500 backpacks and hand them out throughout the event that will also focus on fun with basketball, music and food bringing the community together. The women’s basketball team from Siena College will also attend to play games with attendees and Saturday, special guest and former Harlem Globetrotters player Tay Fisher will attend as well. The event is free and open to the public.