BACK@YOU has had an amazing summer so far, and it’s only just begun! Since our BACKPACK BLUES Benefit at the end of April, our visibility and outreach have grown dramatically, and we have a lot to share!

Our Indiegogo fund reach its goal of $3000 on June 18, 2015, exactly two months after the start of our campaign. We are now over $3200 and donations are still coming in.

We have 158 scarves, and our goal of 200 is within reach. Scarves have come in from coast to coast from Washington state to Virginia. We have scarves of beautiful colors, textures, and styles, all made with love and compassion for our homeless neighbors.

We got our first volunteer from outside Missouri in Brooklyn, New York. Anna Bongiorno found BACK@YOU while surfing the web one night and loved what we were doing. A couple of weeks and a long phone call later, she was ready to be part of our BACK@YOU family. She will be working to get items for our backpacks from corporate donors. We are really excited to have her passion and enthusiasm!

On June 29, Lu Oros sent me a message telling me how people were getting excited about our mission. Lu was the Associate Director for The Bridge Outreach (the BACK@YOU partner where we will distribute our backpacks), from 2005, when it started, until 2010. She is now a Community Consultant at Washington University, with a focus on hunger and homelessness, as Co-Chair for the Advocacy Committee of the Continuum of Care, run by the City of St. Louis’s Department of Human Services. Lu and I will meet in August to discuss BACK@YOU taking part in a city-wide awareness event in November. We will also discuss opportunities to help us grow and help more of our homeless neighbors in St Louis.

That same week, the Office of Volunteering Programs at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana contacted us regarding their desire to volunteer with us during our backpack distribution.

A church youth group put together 20 of the most amazing snack bags, and a girls soccer team put together 141 hygiene bags with soaps, shampoo, lotion, toothbrush and toothpaste, razors, and various miscellaneous items. Facebook friends, train buddies, and a variety of organizations have volunteered to put backpacks together and help distribute them. When I started this, I never thought so many people would care and then be willing to help. I was wrong. The love and support that has been shown to BACK@YOU to help our homeless neighbors has been overwhelming.

With all that to share, there’s much more to come! On October 10, we will distribute over 200 backpacks at The Bridge Outreach at 1610 Olive Street in downtown St Louis. I hope many of you will be there to see what a difference, together, we have made. We’ve proved that we see the homeless, and we’ve got their backs!