The founder of Project Backpack, one of Thompson Coburn’s 2016 charities, received a big surprise earlier this month when she visited the St. Louis office and saw the “Wall of Backpacks” — a huge display of the 182 backpacks purchased for the charity, which will soon be filled with necessities and comfort items for children in crisis situations.
“I’m feeling very overwhelmed — what an incredible idea!” said Project Backpack founder Judy Pearlstone after seeing the display. (See Judy’s reaction and her thank you message to Thompson Coburn in the video at right.) “The children will be so thrilled. They have absolutely nothing, and these backpacks are phenomenal.”
The display, hosted on July 12, allowed Thompson Coburn employees to “adopt” backpacks, pick up a shopping list of supplies, and purchase the items on the list. After volunteers turn in their supplies, the backpacks will be packed later this summer and transported to Project Backpack’s warehouse in Bridgeton. Thompson Coburn attorneys and staff adopted 118 backpacks on Tuesday, and donated $750 in monetary contributions, which will go toward additional supplies.
In the first year of TC Makes a Difference, a new yearlong charitable effort across all our offices, Thompson Coburn employees in St. Louis and Belleville have already raised about $4,000 in additional funds for Project Backpack. Fundraisers will continue through the year.
Project Backpack distributes the backpacks to two dozen police stations, shelters, safe houses and social service agencies in St. Louis. The backpacks provide necessities when families have left their homes with next to nothing. For children, the backpacks give joy and a feeling of dignity in a moment of extreme crisis, Judy Pearlstone said. “They can go to school and not feel differently for the difficult situation they’re enduring.”
Wrote one mother at the Women’s Safe House who received an infant backpack: “Being in a violent situation forced me to leave my home with absolutely nothing, and I didn’t have the income to purchase new items for my newborn. Upon entering the shelter, I did not know how I was going to change his clothes, let alone a bottle to feed him with. When I finished my paperwork, I was told ‘Not to worry” and handed a backpack full of essentials for my baby. Among many other things, that backpack showed signs of a new healthier life, and I’m very much appreciative of that! Thanks again!”