James Murray, a board member of For the Kid in All of Us, says this new party is a “totally different event” compared to previous years.
“In the past when we were at Piedmont Park, we found that we were receiving very few backpacks at the actual event. It was a family-friendly type of event and we love Piedmont Park, but this year, we thought it might be nice to change it a little to make it more of a garden-party theme where people don’t have to bring backpacks. They can buy a virtual one,” Murray says.
A “Virtual Backpack” is simply an easy way for someone to donate a backpack full of supplies. By going to www.forthekid.org, one can purchase a backpack for $35. In addition to the backpack, which will be filled with supplies by volunteers and distributed to the beneficiaries before the party, the donation also gives one admission to the party. Purchased at the door, virtual backpacks are $45.
Another change for this year is the new silent auction.
“Great things have been donated and include evenings with a personal chef, event tickets, dentistry, jewelry, vacation packages, art work and gift certificates to some of the best restaurants and bars in town,” says Holly Smith, For the Kids marketing chair. “We will have about 40 items in total.”
In addition to the silent auction, there will be a slushy machine and local mixologists will be making cocktails with Diageo/Smirnoff brand drinks. There will also be live jazz and heavy hors d’ oeuvres by Zest Atlanta.
‘It takes a village’
Partygoers won’t be the only ones benefitting from the event, of course. A total of 13 organizations who serve Georgia’s children will reap the rewards. One of them, CHRIS Kids, has been a beneficiary since the inaugural Backpack in the Park.
Beth Keller, director of development at CHRIS Kids, says the children who will receive these backpacks “all have behavioral health or mental health needs. Some are in foster care, homeless, parenting their own youth, or in juvenile justice systems. Some are low or no income families trying to make ends meet.”
When the children receive the backpacks loaded with supplies, Keller says that “their response is truly incredible. Their faces light up and they especially like the ‘choices’ they get to make about which style they want – this is so important.”
Keller says that their partnership with FTK “is a true example of the African proverb ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ We rely heavily on the resources they procure for our kids. There is such a great need in our community that no single organization can eliminate by going at it alone.
“However, collectively and in partnership, we can make significant, broad impact. Our ‘village’ is one of the strongest.
Top photo: Last year’s Backpack in the Park collected more than 1,800 backpacks with school supplies to help underprivileged kids. (Photo by Dyana Bagby)