Every year in early August, approximately 75 women (and a few men!) gather for an event at a beautiful garden in Historic Deerfield. They enjoy light snacks and desserts, good company and the beautiful surroundings. However, most of all, they celebrate the collection of filled backpacks they (and many others) have donated. These backpacks – many of which are popping at the seams after being filled with carefully selected items for back to school.
These backpacks are distributed to children throughout community who may otherwise not have the supplies necessary to start the school year. Since 2005, over 2,500 backpacks with a value of nearly $200,000 have been donated and distributed. In 2015, nearly 500 backpacks were collected.
Backpacks come to the United Way in several different ways. Traditionally, an individual donor will take on the task of buying and filling the bag. Other ways include:
- Groups of co-workers or friends collaborate on filling a few bags
- Individuals or companies donate supplies or empty backpacks
- Businesses and organizations have a supplies drive at the workplace, asking employees to donate supplies and/or backpacks (sometimes the company will buy the backpacs and have a “stuffing party.”
- Businesses conduct a supplies drive asking employees and/or customers to donate. The supplies are then put into backpacks at United Way (using the empty donated packs)
- Monetary donations are collected and the United Way purchases backpacks and/or supplies (depending on need/supply on hand)
No matter how you participate, you will make a difference in the life of a young person. As one Dad said last year “not only are the supplies important, but you may have just saved the reputation of a child!” It also sends a deep and profound message to teens that the community cares about them and their future.