200 backpacks head to local kids following Women’s Way collection drive

  • Some of the more than 200 backpacks donated to the Blooming Backpacks drive organized by Women’s Way. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Some of the more than 200 backpacks donated to the Blooming Backpacks drive organized by Women’s Way. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Community Action Family Center Program Manager Eric Cora, Big Brothers Big Sisters Executive Director Jennifer Webster, United Way Interim Executive Director Geoff Naunheim and Women’s Way Chair Charity Day helped hand out donated backpacks to local nonprofits through the United Way’s Blooming Backpack drive. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer
Published: 8/5/2022 3:51:07 PM
Modified: 8/5/2022 3:48:00 PM

GREENFIELD — Backpacks chock-full of school supplies will soon be in the hands of children around Franklin County thanks to the 18th annual Blooming Backpacks drive organized by Women’s Way, an affinity group of United Way of the Franklin & Hampshire Region.

Folks from various local nonprofits spent Thursday evening at the United Way offices on Davis Street filling their cars with backpacks to distribute to local families and children. Approximately 200 backpacks, filled with supplies, will be distributed by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County, The United Arc, Community Action Family Center and Youth Programs, the Mary Lyon Foundation and Montague Catholic Social Ministries.

“It’s a worthwhile event, just seeing the joy on a child’s face,” commented Charity Day, chair of Women’s Way. Day added that buying school supplies puts financial pressure on many families and this drive will help both families and schools save money. “Just filling a backpack is so expensive now.”

This was the first Blooming Backpacks drive to be held in its traditional, in-person format since 2019, which Day said was a nice experience.

“It’s great to be back together and be a group,” Day said.

Despite the main part of the drive being over, United Way is still accepting donations. For more information, call 413-584-3962.

Eric Cora, program manager for Community Action Family Center, said the Blooming Backpacks drive “means a lot” to many families in the area, while also fostering cooperation between local nonprofits, which allows them to better serve everyone.

“It allows families to get their kids what they need without feeling financial pressure,” Cora said. “This reinforces that partnership (between nonprofits), which in turn helps the community.”

Jennifer Webster, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County, said Blooming Backpacks provides an opportunity for students to start the school year off on the right foot, while also ensuring students’ self-esteem remains high.

“This is a chance to send our kids to start the school year with confidence,” Webster said.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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