08/18/2014 03:21 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Backpacks for Everyone

As a former teacher, my heart skips a (literal) beat at the the thought of new school supplies. I love neat piles of notebooks, brand new pens, and erasers in every color.

It's not lost on me that my husband, Jason, and I are fortunate enough to be able to gift our kids new school supplies yearly. They start off their school years with new backpacks and school boxes filled to the brim with what they need to learn.

The thought of a school supply shopping trip being a hardship for another mama breaks my heart. According to the Kids Count Data Center, in 2012, 23 percent of children in our nation were living in poverty -- that's more than 16 million kids. For their mamas, looking at an ever-growing school supply list doesn't feel like one more thing to-do, it feels like a heart-panging how can I do this?

I think we can help.


On the day that the kids and I went to buy their school supplies -- lists in hand, excitement overwhelming, shopping cart blessedly full -- Staples reached out to me to partner on their "firsts" campaign to celebrate the first day of school.

In exchange for amazing back to school items for my kids, I would write about the magic of the first day of school. How it feels to send them off. The butterflies-in-the-tummy feeling I get as they start something new, and the fingers that I cross that their years and their teachers and their friends will be magical.

But we had just bought everything on their lists. And I thought that instead of my kids having what they need plus some and someone else's kids not having what they need, what if we split the difference? And all of our babies went to school with new backpacks and a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils?

In a series of sixteen emails, here's what I learned:

Staples was beyond on board with the idea of Backpacks for Everyone. We not only swapped my gifts-for-pay for 25 backpacks for kids who need them, but Staples also offered to fill the backpacks with notebooks, pens, and pencils.

So if you could use help getting a backpack for your student this year, please say so in the comments. This can be anonymous, but please leave your email address so I can get in touch.

And if you can help another mama send her baby off to school with a backpack, please say that in the comments, too.

My hope is to match (backpack) need with heart, and I'm looking at you to partner with me to do this.

The first 25 backpacks are on Staples, packaged and delivered by my kids and I.

Who's next?

All "need" and "help" comments should be left on the original post so I can keep track of all of this goodness in one place. You can find that here.