Jackpacks: Donating School Supplies

I met a wonderful mama, Joey, through my local Hike it Baby chapter and she started a little project five years ago in honor of her son Jack, who passed away in 2006. For International Kindness Project Day in 2011, when Jack would have been turning five and starting kindergarten, she bought five backpacks and filled them with school supplies. She called them “Jackpacks” and donated them to kindergartners who were living at a domestic abuse homeless shelter in Arizona.

Every year since then, with the help of family and friends, Joey has donated Jackpacks in her son’s memory; commemorating his age and grade level to kids in need. She has documented the Jackpacks she’s been able to donate every year on her blog.

In 2015, thanks to the ability to share this wonderful project through social media, she and a group of local friends were able to donate 25 Jackpacks to the Utah Kids Foundation.

Jack would have turned ten tomorrow, August 31, 2016. To help Joey reach her goal of 10 Jackpacks this year, my oldest son, TJ and I hit up our local Walmart and Target to gather as much as we could. We followed the list that Joey shared on her website, which was created from various school supply lists for fifth graders. We picked out a couple of inexpensive backpacks, a pencil cases, notebooks, folders, colored pencils, paper, scissors, glue and more. We even included Kleenex and hand sanitizer.

As a little something extra, TJ wanted to include an insulated lunch bag with each backpack too.

We are fortunate this year that we didn’t need to purchase many school supplies for my first grader as he’s in a private school and they provide almost all of the supplies needed. TJ and I had a long talk in the car to discuss just how lucky and fortunate he is. He struggled a little bit with understanding that not all kids’ parents can afford to buy whatever they need for school.

How will they carry school books if they don’t have a backpack?
How can they do their homework if they don’t have paper and a pencil?
Will they get in trouble with their teacher if they can’t do their homework?

When we got home, we spent a few minutes packing each of our three Jackpacks full of the items we’d purchased. We had to get creative when the bags got a little full, but when we were done, we both were left feeling humble and proud. This year’s Jackpacks will be going to The Family Place in Logan, UT.

TJ said he wishes we could have done more. I told him to save up his money and we can do even more Jackpacks next year.

Interested in donating to future Jackpacks?? There’s a PayPal link on Joey’s blog where you can donate. She photographs everything she’s purchased with donations so you can see exactly what your money buys every year.

Around the holidays, there are programs-a-plenty to donate to those in need, but less frequent throughout the rest of the year. It was especially nice to be able to do this good deed outside of the winter holiday season.

Happy Birthday Jack!!

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