As the old year ends and we welcome 2018, I am able to look back on all that BACK@YOU has accomplished.
Two events held by Kendra Scott were incredibly successful and will ensure that each backpack in 2018 will again contain 18 hour body/hand warmers. These warmers can save lives on a bitter cold night and, in 2017, we included six of them in each backpack.
The BACKPACK BLUES Benefit was a fun time for all with great music and amazing silent-auction items. We are already in the planning stages for the spring 2018 benefit and hope to see many of you there!
Our biggest fundraiser to date was held throughout July at Tapped St Louis. Owners Ryan and Lindsay Reel pick a different local charity every month to donate all tips, and they raised a total of $10,000! This amount will allow us to distribute 500 backpacks in 2018.
Bombas Socks donated 1,000 pairs of socks for our backpacks! That is a lot of socks and made a difference with a big impact!
On October 29, we stuffed 400 backpacks, with 200 going to our nonprofit partners at Places for People, Paraquad, Americorp, Youth in Need, Jefferson County Rescue Mission, and Cavalary Missionary to distribute to those in need throughout the winter. On October 30, we distributed the other 200 outside of St. Louis City Hall West, one on one with the help of about 65 volunteers. The amazing kids from Ignite Theater Group ensured that every child received a kid’s backpack, toys, and lots of special attention while their parents went through the process of picking out their backpacks. It was a huge success and we were lucky to have the new Director of Homeless Services, the Director of Veterans Affairs, and other representatives of the City observe and take part in our annual event of showing kindness and respect to our homeless neighbors in St. Louis. They were so impressed that they requested our help in setting up their Project Homeless Connect fair on January 25 so they can model it after our backpack distribution. I am excited to help!
Because of our supporters and volunteers over the last three years, BACK@YOU has gone from the dream of one person to a reality for hundreds of people. Together, we have made a difference, and together we will continue to show kindness and respect to our homeless neighbors, one backpack and one handmade scarf at a time.