By Guest Bloggers Catherine Turnage, AmeriCorps Volunteer; and Parker White, Founder/Executive Director of BackPack Beginnings
Let’s be honest – no one could have predicted that the year 2020 would put a global pandemic on our hands. If someone had shouted of month long lockdowns, a collapsing economy, and nationwide supply shortages, we would have all probably laughed. However, while the rest of the country came to a standstill, we here at BackPack Beginnings sprang into action. As a food and basic needs distribution site, we had clearance to continue to help those in need. After all, we couldn’t let a global pandemic be the only thing on our children’s plates.
“One of my students became more social after joining the program. She speaks out and has shown academic growth.” –Johnson Street Elementary teacher
BackPack Beginnings’ mission is to deliver child-centric services to feed, comfort, and clothe children in need. By ensuring food and basic necessities are given directly to children in need, we make a positive and lasting impact on their health and well-being. Started in our Founder’s dining room, what started out as a few boxes of food to serve one school became a multi-program organization that helps over 12,000 children experiencing hunger and trauma in our community. We serve children, in partnership with 63 schools and 43 partner agencies, through our Food Programs, Comfort Backpack Program, Clothing Pantry Program, Diaper Pantry Program, Book Beginnings Program and more.
I came to shop for one of my students who was being teased at school for only wearing her brother’s hand-me-down clothes to school. I left BackPack Beginnings’ Clothing Pantry with so much pink for my student! – Elementary School Social Worker
Fortunately, the desire for all children’s basic needs to be met is something that resonates within our community, as our program is a 95% volunteer organization. We offer a variety of different volunteer opportunities from warehouse work (packing bags of food, sorting clothing, making diaper bundles, stuffing comfort backpacks) to food/supply deliveries to distributing food to local families. We have worked hard to make sure we are following CDC guidelines and that our volunteers feel safe while helping us out.
Besides volunteering, you can support our programming through the donation of food, children’s clothing, hygiene products, school supplies, books, diapers and more! Want to know the best part? Many items– children’s clothing, books, stuffed animals, toys, backpacks and more– can be gently used and found in your own homes. We also have honor cards for sale at our warehouse and Simply Meg’s.
“A 4 yr old refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo loved the teddy bear! Her face lit up and smiled when she saw it. It was the first time since being in the country that she smiled that big!” – NC African Services Coalition
As the pandemic rages on, BackPack Beginnings hopes you will continue to consider struggling families and children throughout our community. Unfortunately, there are more families at the end of 2020 than the beginning that need our help. Please help us serve the growing need that will last months and possibly years to come. To support our organization OR find help for your children and family, please visit us at www.backpackbeginnings.org.