Julie Smith's daughter celebrates 16th birthday with backpack drive for Wilder participants
During summer 2021, Julie Smith and her three children, ages 16, 13 and 9, brainstormed ways they could make a meaningful contribution to the community at a time when hands-on, face-to-face interactions were limited. They landed on a school-supply drive to support Wilder's School Success supply drive, which provides about 2,000 backpacks and school supplies to children and youth served by Wilder every year.
“I felt like this is the year for us to help kids get started on the right foot,” Julie says. “They’re not distance learning; they’re all going to be new in school again.” Plus, Julie says, her entire family loves school supplies.
The family organized a school-supply drive as part of Julie’s daughter’s 16th birthday celebration in August. Julie and her daughter emailed their networks to ask for donations. The response was overwhelming. Every one of the 14 friends who attended Julie’s daughter’s birthday party brought a backpack with supplies. “It’s a really selfless act for a teenager, and it’s also a good example for her younger brothers to see,” Julie says. “It was great for them to see her and us thinking about other people.”
Friends of the family also dropped off donations. When their drive was completed, Julie and her 13-year-old son drove to Wilder in an SUV filled with 75 new backpacks and school supplies.
“We have decided absolutely we are doing it next year,” Julie says. In fact, a friend of Julie’s suggested that the family double their goal next year.