Bienestar Backpack Project v4: How I Spent $35 for 170 Backpacks

It's almost time for school to start - and that means there is a little flutter in the hearts of many parents who can not afford to buy school supplies for their kids. Getting an education is so important - our future depends on it! We need to help the youth of our world be prepared as much as possible.
And so it goes that I hosted the 4th annual backpack drive for the Bienestar homework club.
I feel so passionate about helping these particular children, not just because I love to help kids in need, but these kids are making some great effort to be successful in school. You can't just stop by the homework club after school - you have to apply, with parental permission, and you sign a contract and agree to bring in progress reports from school, and you commit to coming prepared after school to study and work on schoolwork and have an open mind and LEARN - outside of school hours even! These children are making a wonderful effort.
And as such - I want to help them in some way.
I don't have a lot of money. Especially at this time of year when I have just recently sent my own son off to college with every bit of money I can muster together to pay for tuition, books, frat dues, food, essentials needed to start off the school year. But just because I don't have money doesn't mean I can't make a difference. My contribution is one that anyone can do - I coordinated gathering backpacks and supplies for 150 children in the homework club. We actually ended up having about 173 backpacks and supplies for 150, which is another increase from the year prior, which was more than the year prior to that, and the year prior to that!
Lesson of the day: You don't need money to make a big difference in the world.
I purchased about $35 of school supplies out of my own pocket for this project. But I emailed out fliers and begged people and promoted the good cause and somehow, within a three week span of time, everything came together. Here are just some of the stats:
  • 173 backpacks
  • 620 spiral notebooks
  • 3632 pencils
  • 372 pens
  • 388 erasers
  • 455 glue sticks
  • 162 boxes of crayons
  • 150 pencil boxes
  • 150 pencil sharpeners
  • 507 folders
  • 80 rulers
I can't even begin to guess the value of all the bags and supplies we passed on to Bienestar. But more important than just coordinating the gathering of supplies, what makes this project so rewarding for me is seeing the children who get the school supplies.
The collection of supplies is all done at my house - taking over my living room for the month. Throughout that time, it's constant counting and sorting as more supplies come in.
On a particular day near the end of the month, I gather some volunteers - 8 wonderful people this year came to help (most having helped at one of my backpack projects in the past) - and we set everything up and begin stuffing all the bags. But first comes the unloading, and the kids are always excited to help with that!
Two SUV's full of supplies means a lot of teamwork unloading!
Lots and lots of unloading...
The children help us sort the bags by grade so we can tag them.
It was fun to see the kids digging through their bags to see who got what - and we let them trade out colors of notebooks/binders that they didn't love.

Unpacking CAN be fun!
The kids who volunteer with us get to have the first selection of which bag they would like.
We were able to personally hand them their backpacks once they were filled.

supplies supplies supplies

sorting sorting sorting
stuffing stuffing stuffing
more stuffing

My wonderful volunteers (minus 2 hidden adults and one photo taker).
Some very happy and appreciative kids!


Thanks to everyone who helped contribute - this would not be possible without the kind and generous people in my life who either donated, volunteered (or both!), and spread the word around helping to look for donations. Working together, we have all made a difference in the world. The world is a better place because of us - thanks all!!


  1. Bijoux said...:

    You are an amazing coordinator! What a wonderful project. My oldest daughter, who is an RN, did her service learning project in college at a migrant farm workers clinic. I was so ignorant about the number of migrant workers in our state and their health and living conditions, as well as how they get their children educated.

  1. Kaylen's mom said...:

    Wonderful job, Kaylen! We are proud of you and the work you do.


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