Positive impacts of Ultimate Backpack Supply Drive on full display at Woodville Elementary

Published: Aug. 23, 2022 at 9:25 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - NBC12 is proud to say the fifth annual Ultimate Backpack Supply Drive was a massive success.

But after the big event simmers down, where do these backpacks actually go, and who has your generosity helped? NBC12 went to Woodville Elementary to find out.

“It’s just a great program. I think it’s amazing. It just takes that issue off the plate, that challenge for their students,” said Ridgely Carter-Mincer, a teacher at Woodville Elementary.

The backpack supply drive filled well over 31,000 backpacks for students.

“Our kids know that the community believes in them,” Woodville Elementary Principal Rickeita Jones said. “When we have a community backing our schools and backing our students, that’s just a recipe for success.”

Jones says they received over 400 backpacks this year.

“As a community, we want to ensure local students have a great school year and a great learning experience. With the VCU Ultimate Backpack Supply Drive, the community and businesses are committed to ensuring students have the access and opportunity to succeed in school. Access to school supplies makes the biggest difference on the first day of school,” organizer Timmy Nguyen said.

They are already handing them out in preparation for the first day of school.

“Today, we’re going out in the community, so we are going to hand some out today so that kids can walk in the school building with supplies and book bags on their back,” she said.

A book bag filled with some pencils and notebooks may not seem like much, but teachers like Ridgley Carter-Mincer say those things mean the world.

“I’ve been in a room before when a student that doesn’t have supplies kind of turns away or shies away because they feel like they’re not prepared,” she says.

Buying basic school supplies is a hardship for many families, especially with the financial struggles of COVID-19 and inflation.

“It’s like, ‘Man, I have to get all these things, and I have to feed my children, and I have to just survive through the day,’” Jones said.

It’s also tough on teachers; many spend their money to buy supplies.

“It adds up. You don’t realize how much you know you really are spending until you sit back and think,” Carter-Mincer said.

Every student gets to hand-pick their own backpack. The reactions are priceless.

“They want to put it on immediately and may not even want to take it off,” Jones says.

“I think when they come into the room with those tools to succeed, it makes them have a confidence that is just indescribable,” Carter-Mincer said.

The best part about this drive is schools will now always have backpacks on hand through the school year, so if there is ever a student in need, they will always be able to help.