One school, 50 Kids, $8000 a year. That was the plan Parker Wood White started with when she began BackPack Beginnings out of her dining room in 2010. What has grown from that plan is a county-wide program that provides food to 739 children in 18 schools, as well as Comfort BackPacks to children in crisis, a clothing closet, and 2 food pantries. In three short years, BackPack Beginnings has made huge strides in helping innocent children who are in need. She attributes the success of the program to the people of Guilford County. Once the need was brought to light, “the community could not turn away.”
In 2007, Parker’s life perspective changed forever when she had her daughter. Once she became a mother, she realized the magnitude of having a child who depended on her for everything: shelter, warmth, comfort and most importantly, food. When she moved back to her hometown of Greensboro, she looked for a way to help parents who were having trouble providing for their children. Parker’s research led her to Second Harvest Food Bank, where she learned about existing BackPack Programs that provide kids with food each weekend. They provided her with support for the program, and Parker got started putting together BackPack Beginnings in Guilford County. Once she began fundraising, she quickly surpassed her $8,000 goal, and the money kept coming. Parker recalls, “A few months in I realized it wasn’t just going to be a feeding program. I wanted to it be a true BackPack program serving underprivileged children.” As the program has grown, they have moved into office space, rallied an army of volunteers, and expanded quickly to serve more children than Parker could have ever imagined.
Even though the program has grown immensely, Parker has never wavered from her initial vision: Providing children with food and comfort in order to give them a chance to take steps toward a better life. BackPack Beginnings has become a way for her to teach her own children about the value of helping those in need. Every night Parker’s daughter prays for the children who are receiving bags. As her children grow, Parker sees the value in having a volunteer organization that allows children to spend their own time helping their peers. Never taking a salary and often working longer hours than a full time job, running the organization can get exhausting mentally, physically and emotionally. But the feedback she gets about children the program has helped makes it possible for Parker to keep going when she is tired. She will continue to work hard to grow BackPack Beginnings, and will always look for opportunities to use a backpack to impact a child’s life. Despite all the lives she has already changed, Parker credits the program with making her own life better. “It has given back to me more than I have ever given to it.”
Written on 2/18/2013 by Blogger Thea DeLoreto