Packing backpacks for kids in need

August 8, 2012 2:56:18 PM PDT
The good times were rolling at Lincoln Financial Field Wednesday as volunteers got packing for the fifth annual Backpackathon.

Michal Smith, Executive Director of the group Cradles to Crayons, described the challenge:

"We've got 22 lines, we've got 26 people on every line and they're packing almost 1000 backpacks in a 2-hour period," he said.

That's a total of 20,000 backpacks, filled with thousand notebooks and folders and pencils. And the volunteers seemed to be keeping pace.

The music definitely kept them energized. There was a fun, party-like atmosphere, but everyone was aware that it was for a serious cause. Experts say one in five children in our area live below the poverty line. Their families can't afford the most basic needs.

That is why United Way and Cradles to Crayons joined forces to create this event, which has since become the largest back-to-school event in the entire region.

"Parents are being faced with some really unthinkable choices, between putting meals on the table and being able to provide their kids with that experience of cracking open their composition books on the first day of school," said Jill Michal, President and CEO of the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

For the volunteers who took the time out to give back Wednesday, even bringing their little ones, the message was loud and clear.

"They really get to understand what other children don't have that they luckily do have," said Bill Madison of Quakertown.

The backpacks are headed to homeless shelters and social service organizations throughout the area, and eventually into the hands of children who needs them.

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