The Great Backpack Project of 2010! Donate Here!

Remember how fun and wonderful it was on that first day of school to have your new sparkly backpack full of new school supplies that you could not wait to use? And then you get to school and you take each item out and very carefully arrange them in your desk in just the right way. And everyone around you is comparing the colored pencils they got and the erasers that you got and which things everyone have that are the same...

And remember as a parent, how excited your child was to get that new backpack and picking out all the fun school supplies for their new school year?

Now just for a second, imagine that you barely have enough money for food each month, that there is no such things as "school shopping", and that you have to send your child off on the school bus with no backpack, no school supplies. Is your heart-breaking? Yes, if you are human, it is a little bit.

I am coordinating a project with a nonprofit called Bienestar. Bienestar works with ten apartment complexes that house some of the poorest of the poor, the average yearly income is $20,000. For whatever reason that they are living in the situation they are - they still have children. And these children still care. They have feelings. And they are normal kids who just want what every other kid wants. And starting the school year off right means having a backpack with the basic school supplies on that first day.

About Bienestar:
The vision of Bienestar: Quality affordable housing is essential for individuals, families and communities to thrive. We envision and develop communities where residents find dignity, hope, confidence, skills, and courage to pursue their dreams.  We believe in the resilience and capacity of all human beings to help, change, adapt and lead in their own lives, their families, neighborhoods and communities. We work in the midst of the poorest neighborhoods to unleash the potential of people to improve the quality of life for themselves, their children, their families, and the community.
Bienestar has a variety of programs:
  • Promotores Program, an adult workforce training program to develop community leadership and educate low-income parents about health, school and job resources, housing/financial information, and prepare selected residents for future jobs in outreach.
  • Adult Programs: Programs for adult residents include computer classes, financial literacy, community gardens and more.
  • Youth Programs: Programs for young residents include Homework Club, AKA Science Club, Basketball Club and more.
Bienestar doesn't just give handouts. They reach out their hand and they lead you on the path to success. They are wonderful, and I am excited to be able to help them in any way.

The cheapest backpacks cost about $20 in the store. The average cost for basic school supplies is about $20. Simple math...$40 for one child to have what they need to start the school year off right.

When talking to the director of Bienestar, we talked about how great it would be to give a backpack and supplies to each child in their homework clubs. They have 4 clubs, with 24 kids in each club. (they have a waiting list-more kids want to join but they don't have the room.). More simple math: that's 96 children.

But is it fair that just those 96 kids get a backpack, when they have a waiting list and there are kids who actually WANT to spend more time and energy on schoolwork? No, not really. So my goal is 150 backpacks with supplies. A little more complex math: $40 each child, 150 is the goal...that equals out to $6000. I think I have about $550 so far. And already have 6 backpacks in my house and 10 notebooks. I'm on my way.....but it seems like I have a long way to go...

I have 3 weeks to get all the supplies. There will be a volunteer event planned for August 28th to actually stuff the backpacks with supplies. Bienestar staff will pass the bags out to the homework club kids (who actually do meet in the summer to study!).

So who is with me? Who is ready to donate $5 (or $25) to help my backpack project?
Or who has a great contact with a company who would be willing to donate? (Bienestar asked local stores and was denied)

If you're feeling generous, or want to go to heaven, or just have $20 burning a hole in your pocket - please click the button below and help out. I'll give you a shout out and if I have your address, a personalized thank you card (priceless for sure).

Thanks all!


  1. Brian Miller said...:

    that is a really cool thing you are doing...there should not be kids that dont have at least the basics to go to school. an education will give them a leg up...

  1. What a wonderful thing to do... I'm happy to help. I had a little problem with it going through, so let me know if you don't get the donation. :-)

  1. Heather said...:

    I feel like such a dork this year. I wasn't able to help my sisters outfit their kids with school supplies this year. I ended up sending what I had here at the house (left over from last years supply run) with my brother to drop off on his way home. It was something I enjoy doing every year and I missed out this year. Bummer!
    I do wish I could help, but that $10 I've been hiding in my drawer is going for my niece's backpack.

  1. Its funny, I make 20k a year and I know just how much 40 dollars can be to those on a tight budget! I hope you can meet your goal!!!

  1. Raven said...:

    School in my suburb is a little more expensive. I spent about $60-$70 per kid each fall (when they were both in school) on school supplies. Then I found out about a program in my neighborhood that gives out school supplies (PROP-People Reaching Out to Other People) and what a help that was. Charities like these can really make a difference.


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