RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - As the Trump Administration faces mounting pressure to reunite migrant children who were separated from their families at the border, a small group in Richmond is making it their mission to ease the pain of separation for the children by collecting backpacks.
Leah Contreras is the organizer of the group and said that the backpacks will give these children hope, as they wait to be reunited with their families.
One item at a time, Leah Contreras stuffs each backpack donation she receives in hopes that it will make it to children who have been separated from their families at the border.
Leah, her husband, Elvys Contreras, and a small group working with a program called Youth for Tomorrow.
"In the last six years, Youth for Tomorrow has reunited 2300 children with their families in the united states," said Leah.
Leah said Youth for Tomorrow has already taken in 15 girls that have been separated from their families at the border because of the current administration zero-tolerance policy.
Leah adds that Youth for Tomorrow takes in an average 800 migrant children a year, so Leah and her husband aim to collect over 800 bags along with supplies to match that number.
They can be filled with toiletries, books, games and other learning materials.
"We have people bring a backpack with the supplies in it, but if they are not able to or someone wants to donate a lot of one thing like toothbrushes, that's fine we'll put the backpacks together," said Leah.
Leah said that the group is also accepting cash donations, which will be used to buy more bags and supplies.
The donations started Sunday and will continue until July 21.
So far, Leah and her group have received donations from Pasture Restaurant in Richmond and Jefferson Davis Flea Market in Chesterfield.
Sandra Bonilla is the property manager of the Jefferson Davis Flea Market and donated 200 backpacks toward Leah's cause.
"We're trying to help her reach her goal and within the market, the vendors are also going to help supply what goes in the book bags," said Bonilla.
"We've even had faith-based organizations like Congregation or Ami in Chesterfield, and the Islamic Center of Virginia...so it's just incredible to see how much interest there is," said Leah.
Elvis Contreras hopes that in some small way this donation will help these migrant children know that even in a country that's not their own, they are valued.
"It's kind of like a sign of hope that they are going to be reunited," said Elvys. "That's what I hope when they see the backpacks, that that's the end goal."
Leah says donations like this go beyond politics and that she wants others to be compelled to give to these children's just as she has.
"Even if you think they do not have the right to be here, they are here now and so we need to help them in any way that we can," said Leah.
If you would like to donate a backpack to this cause we have a list of drop off locations here:
Jefferson Davis Flea Market
5700 Jefferson Davis Hghwy
N. Chesterfield, VA, 23234
Bella Italia Restaurant
6407 Iron Gate Plaza
Chesterfield, VA, 23234
Congregation Or Ami
9400 W. Huguenot Rd
Richmond, VA, 23235
416 E. Grace St
Richmond, VA 23219
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