CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Providence Day School student is working to make sure kids across Charlotte have backpacks for the upcoming school year.
PacksBack is a community service initiative founded last year by Alex Emery, who is now a rising 10th grader. Its goal is to donate new and gently used backpacks to children in need to help get kids excited about going back to school.
"It's amazing. I love the feeling of being able to give back to people, and I'm really appreciative of the fact that I can do that,” Emery said. "All I hope is that it puts a big smile on their face, and it gives them the same feeling that I felt when I got a backpack as well."
Emery said one of her favorite parts about back-to-school shopping is picking out a new backpack, and she realized not every child may have the opportunity to do that.
In the last year, Emery has partnered with local businesses, like Hawthorne’s Pizza, to collect backpacks. She’s held donation days and even does ‘porch pick-ups’ if someone has a backpack to donate and can’t drop it off.
Emery said she cleans and sanitizes the gently used backpacks by hand to make them "like-new."
Last year, she was able to donate more than a hundred backpacks to Bruns Academy to help serve 1/3 of its student body.
This year, she partnered with Hidden Valley Elementary to give out over a hundred more.
With inflation hitting record highs this year and families expected to shell out more money on school supplies, Emery knows there's a greater need this year as students head back to class.
"It's amazing. I'm so happy that I can do something for them and give them a backpack that they don't have to spend any money on, and it's a very good quality backpack,” Emery added.
The soon-to-be sophomore in high school said her dad, who is a football coach, inspired her and instilled in her the drive to work hard. She’s now seeing how her efforts can help others in need.
“Just seeing the effect that I can have on someone," Emery said. "It’s truly amazing."
Emery said she wants to continue to expand and grow PacksBack in the years to come by partnering with more companies and businesses, all with the goal to provide more students in need with backpacks.
WCNC Charlotte is committed to reporting on the issues facing the communities we serve. We tell the stories of people working to solve persistent social problems. We examine how problems can be solved or addressed to improve the quality of life and make a positive difference. WCNC Charlotte is seeking solutions for you. Send your tips or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.