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Build a backpack. Build a future.
by Mary Kathryn Tiller
Posted on Tuesday, August 06, 2019
As the month of August begins, teachers and families around the world begin making preparations for the coming school year. For many children, the beginning of school is an exciting season, full of possibilities. Few things capture the promise of a new year like the purchase of new school supplies.

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Unfortunately, for many families, both in the United States and around the world, purchasing school supplies can often represent a closed door, rather than boundless opportunities. Traditionally, schools require their students to purchase and provide their own set of supplies. This can prove an insurmountable barrier for a family struggling to feed their children one square meal a day, or for an orphanage attempting to provide food, clothing, and shelter for multiple children. As such, school supplies often becomes one of the many economic barriers keeping thousands of children out of the classroom.

The areas in which Orphan Outreach’s ministry partners serve are considered “high-risk”, meaning food, water, and other basic necessities are scarce and difficult to come by. In this setting, the role of education is both vital to the transformation of the community and nearly impossible to achieve. That is why Orphan Outreach has made it their mission to reduce economic barriers and provide an education for each of the children in their care.

“When a child attends our programs, they are receiving more than just an education. Often they receive holistic care through nutritious meals, social and psychological care, and the opportunity to hear about the God who loves them. We want to ensure every one of our children has access to that kind of opportunity,” explained Katherine Cheng, Vice President of Programs.

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In an effort to fulfill this mission, Orphan Outreach launched Mission Backpack in 2008. Mission Backpack raises funds to provide every child with a brand new backpack filled with school supplies. Just as we seek to meet the actual needs of a community (and not simply the needs we perceive) this campaign provides each child with the supplies specifically requested by their local school.

One online donation of $24 will buy an elementary or junior high aged child a full backpack, granting them the opportunity to attend school and improve their future. (Our Higher Education Sponsorships provide high school children with their required school supplies. You can learn more about those sponsorships here.) 

“For many of us, a backpack and school supplies are small things,” said Amy Seale of Orphan Outreach. “But for the kids in these other countries, it equips them with what they need to have a successful year. They often don’t have the ability to purchase something as simple as a pencil or a pen; they simply can't afford those things. Unfortunately, that is often what determines if they go to school that year or not. So to receive a backpack is a big deal to them.”

As previously mentioned, it is not only families in foreign countries who struggle to afford new school supplies each year. Thousands of families within the United States send their children to school without the basic supplies needed to start their year off right.

In 2011, NVIDIA, a large North American tech company specializing in Artificial Intelligence Computing, approached Orphan Outreach and asked if they might partner together to do for the children in the United States, what Mission Backpack had been doing for children around the world. NVIDIA was eager to give back to the communities which shaped their employees and saw Orphan Outreach’s school supplies campaign as a great way to do just that.

This summer, funds were raised for nearly two thousand backpacks—a record number. Each backpack was filled and delivered to a student within the United States, preparing them for a great year ahead.

“I think receiving these backpacks gives the kids a sense of pride because they are walking into school and they have what the other kids have: brand new backpacks and brand new school supplies; exactly what they need for their school year, ” said Amy.

Following this fantastic success, Orphan Outreach is excited to announce the launch of their 2019 Mission Backpack International campaign. This year, the opportunity exists to provide more than 3,600 children with backpacks.

The backpacks donated through this campaign represent so much more than the start of a new year. They represent a network of donors investing in and rallying around orphaned and vulnerable children. Each backpack built through an online donation builds the future of the child who receives it.

Join with Orphan Outreach by coming alongside a child and investing in a practical way for their future. Give to our 2019 Mission Backpack campaign today!

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