More than 30 volunteers at St. Joseph’s Health Center gathered on Tuesday to execute Operation Backpack . The program helps hundreds of children go to school fully packed and prepared with all the school supplies they need for the upcoming academic year.
Bins filled with back to school essential quickly ended up in backpacks that were ready for drop off at the at the St. Joseph pediatric outpatient clinic locations for distribution. Lauren Spring is the current president of the St. Joseph's Auxiliary Board who helped organize "Operation Backpack"
" We are filling over 800 backpacks, so it has certainly grown over time," Spring said. "Obviously as you can see the need is there. St. Joe's serves some of the most underprivileged areas of the Syracuse community, so we saw a need when children would come to have their physicals before going to school."
President-elect of the Auxiliary Board Colleen Prossner believes the financial stress of getting school supplies can be difficult for large families. Twelve years later, operation backpack has helped families get ready for the upcoming school year.
"When you are talking about filling a backpack and buying it and getting all the supplies there could be $40 or $50 per backpack by the time you are finished," Prossner said. "A lot of people couldn't afford that with their families and the number of kids."
Thousands of school supplies were donated from St. Joe’s employees and auxiliary members who will leave these students fully prepared.
"They are much better equipped to go to school in September when they have the supplies and the needs to go in without worrying about whether they have the backpacks, the pens, the paper. They are much better to go."
As one of St. Joseph's biggest supporters, Prossner says the Auxiliary Board works to support the healthcare community even outside of the hospital setting with events like operation backpack.
"When you are giving a backpack away to a child in need and you see the joy on their face when they get the backpack and they open it, it is an incredible feeling."