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Imagine back to when you were in school. Imagine even more specifically walking in on the first day. The excitement, the buzz, the hopes. Remember unpacking all your school supplies into your desk or your locker. Remember what it was like to shop for them, too. I can remember so vividly choosing each color folder for my different subjects. For me it was usually at a Target. Lovely “Tar-zjay”. Remember Trapper Keepers!! They were just the coolest, right? Maybe you were into Spiderman, maybe Garfield the cat, maybe Barbie, maybe Cabbage Patch Dolls. Ha! Cabbage Patch Dolls. Oh, dear. Remember them?! But whatever you were into it could be reflected in your school supplies. It was so much fun to pick out all that stuff.

Now imagine if you never got to pick out your school supplies. You not only didn’t get to pick them out, you didn’t get them at all. You walked into school on the first day with nothing. No backpack, no book bag, no pencils, no crayons, no binder, no paper, no composition books, no folders, no glue sticks. Nothing. You wouldn’t just feel ill prepared. You’d feel embarrassed. You’d feel stressed out. You’d feel scared. You’d be vulnerable. You may, in fact, decide not to go to school at all rather than face all those fears and obstacles and peers.

It is an extremely sad story. One that plays itself out quite often in metropolises like New York City which house tens of thousands of children in its homeless shelters. These children live with disappointment and anxiety everyday. They often have to act as the adult in their family in a tragic role reversal of child looking after parent. They carry the stresses of their households on their backs. Wondering how to buy school supplies when their parents can barely afford food is a worry they are saddled with every year.

Operation Backpack relieves these children of this angst. By providing new backpacks filled with new, grade specific school supplies, Volunteers of America gives these children so much more than the tangible tools they need to succeed. We not only solve the specific financial stress facing the child’s parents, we alleviate the burden the child is carrying in their heart. And most importantly, we equip them with a sense of confidence, allowing them to know they are worth it, letting them know someone believes in them and believes they deserve to go to school. They deserve a chance like any other typical classmate.

If you could see the smiles that come across these kids’ faces when they receive their backpacks . . . Many of the children won’t even let the bags out of their sight, carrying them to bed with them and sleeping with them as though they are stuffed animals. The gratitude is difficult to describe in words. If you have a minute watch this video of this remarkable, and yet, indicative story of one young girl who received a backpack from us:

Now some of you may feel that homelessness is not your problem. You may believe the people who end up in homeless shelters are drug addicts and alcoholics and junkies. It’s their fault they ended up in that situation. Let me say outright that is not true more often than not. The hardcore fact is it could happen to any one of us a lot faster and easier than you could possibly comprehend. But even if it were the fault of the parent that their family ended up in a shelter, it is NEVER the child’s fault.

The most devastating consequence of homelessness is the impact it has on a child’s education. And the most efficient way to break the cycle of poverty is through education. Won’t you please help me close that gap and help these kids? Please donate on my CrowdRise page. I can promise you every cent will go toward providing these kids with desperately needed school supplies. I implore you to dig into your pockets. Even one dollar can help. Just think if each of my Twitter followers and Facebook friends would donate just one dollar we could buy thousands of dollars worth or school supplies.

Join me. Let’s show that Paige Davis fans are the best! I will be indebted to you. And the kids will be extremely lucky and grateful. Let’s do this! You can check out my fundraiser page here: Operation Backpack 2016