Backpacks for Kids initiative looking for donations

By Daniel Adam
Staff Writer

Kathy Lampi estimates she’s been organizing Backpacks for Kids for a decade.

“It’s very rewarding,” she says. “People are just amazing. They really really are.”

Kelsey Langtry, who works with Lampi, started helping organize Backpacks for Kids with her last year. Langtry is going into her third year studying social work at Lakehead University and already works with families in need.

“I saw the opportunity to help out and then I kinda just fell in love with it,” she says. “I love doing it. It’s fun, and you feel good.”

The pair go around and ask for donations, whether it be backpacks, school supplies, or monetary donations. They collect the backpacks and stuff them with necessary school supplies for kids.

Lampi says the initiative helps take a little pressure off.

“It really helps the area families,” she says. “It’s pretty pricey for parents.”

Once they’ve collected everything for the year, they drop the backpacks off at Family and Children’s Services (FCS). They and Weechi-it-te-win Family Services then distribute the supplies.

Lampi says she’d like to deliver everything to FCS by August 17.

“That way, parents know what they have,” she says.

Donations can include backpacks, and any other necessary school supplies like notebooks, pencils, rulers, etc.

Anyone can bring donations to the Fort Frances Family Dentists or to The Bargain Shop. Langtry added that they can provide pickups as well.

“People in our area are very generous,” says Lampi. “It’s awesome — people just want to donate.”

She says they usually begin gathering backpacks after Canada Day, but this year, they began in mid-June to get a head start.

“It always just seems like panic mode right down to the end,” she says.

After a two-year unplanned pandemic break, the initiative returned last year with 209 stuffed backpacks.

Backpacks for Kids’ biggest year came in 2019, coming up just one backpack shy of 300.