It has been 21 years since Gloria Max and the Jewish Federation of Volusia and Flagler counties gave away the first backpack.
Gloria Max, the diminutive force of nature behind the Jewish Federation of Volusia and Flagler Counties' Backpack program, is worried about being able to provide quality backpacks filled with school supplies to the children this year.
The original backpack project is short on cash, partially because of the expected increase in demand.
“I know that this year especially, there will be a lot of disadvantaged kids needing assistance because Hurricane Matthew did a number on a lot of families, because we are seeing families that haven't been to us in years, coming back for food,” Max said. “You know if they can't afford food, they certainly can't afford school supplies.”
For years, the Federation gave gifts to children until one day it was suggested they might like school supplies. Max wasn’t convinced but agreed to give it a try and when “a really big young man” gave her a hug and said, “Now I have a nice backpack like the rich kids, even better, for school,” she knew the change was appreciated.
The backpacks are distributed to schools in both counties for any child who is in need.
Max believes the new backpacks filled with supplies that retail for $80 (she gets them for $25 each) give the students a sense of pride that translates to improved performance in school and pride in their work. Many of the students take time to write to her and thank her and the sponsors who fill the bags for their generosity. They know who to thank because each backpack includes a list of the people, organizations and businesses that donated.
To help Max and the Foundation have a successful 22nd year, send donations to The Jewish Federation 470 Andalusia Ave., Ormond Beach, FL 32174 and write “School supply kits” in the memo section.
Max is proud that 100% of every donation directly benefits the program. Her salary and operating costs are paid by the Jewish Federation of Volusia and Flagler Counties.