Karma for Cara Microgrants help fund exceptional service projects led by youth 18 and under working to better their communities. Read about our microgrant recipient, Lucia who created “Backpack Buddies.” Backpack Buddies provides backpacks filled with school supplies for students throughout Central Virginia.
1. What inspired to start Backpack Buddies?
When I was nine years old and shopping for school supplies, my mom told me that many kids in our area could not afford a basic backpack or supplies. I was upset and surprised because I had never heard of any efforts trying to fix this issue specifically, and so I met with a local leader to find out if it was true. He told me that there are so many children and teens in my small community alone whose families suffered financially with this expenses. That is when I came up with an idea to collect supplies and start my own charity, and I named it “Backpack Buddies.” Seven years later we have filled almost 1,500 backpacks with all sorts of school supplies for kids throughout Central Virginia.
2. Why is your work important to you?
The first year I started Backpack Buddies, I had no idea how big it was going to grow and how important it would become in my life. Through Backpack Buddies I have discovered my passions of public speaking, philanthropy, and entrepreneurship. But the true reason I continue to work hard year after year is for the day when I am able to drop the backpacks off at local centers, and see how excited and grateful they are. Anyone who has gone with me to deliver backpacks will tell you that their smiles and happy faces are worth hundreds of hours of service.
3.How did the money from the microgrant help with your project?
At the end of the summer this year, everything was going very well, and it looked like we were going to crush our goal out of the water. However, we were missing a few critical items such as pencils and some more packs of paper which are necessary to each backpack. Luckily, we received the check in the mail and we were able to finish off 2016 with 478 fully filled backpacks!
4. What message of giving back do you have for others
I was an incredibly young and shy child when the idea of Backpack Buddies first came to me, but I decided to pursue it. Public speaking gave me stage-fright and I had no idea how to even go about starting a charity in a world where adults rule. Now, I am confident in my self and my charity, and it is the one thing in this world that makes me the happiest. Even if you’re young, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to and have a passion for, even if you don’t know it yet.