The preparation for this event is a testament to the dedication and care that goes into each Pack Your Back event. Volunteers arrived at the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village as early as 8 AM, and made the most of every minute until the doors opened to the public at 1 PM. In a matter of hours, a gymnasium and several empty hallways became an enchanted walkway, a stocked toy room, and a bustling activity zone festooned in red and green.
"It was emotional getting to lead children though the toy room," Pack Your Back Co-founder and Marketing Director Caroline Murray said. "I got to watch each child's eyes light up when I told them they could pick out three toys of their own. It is impossible to describe the feelings that go through your head when you see a child walk away, face beaming as they carry their new favorite toy.”
Every child walked away from Stuff Your Stocking with three new toys, a stocking loaded with school supplies, and a backpack. Several families received special items, such as televisions and bicycles through a giveaway drawing. The most magical experience, however, came from the memories made through spending time with family and participating in activities together to celebrate the holiday season.
Stuff Your Stocking was funded entirely by public donations. Mari Copeny, otherwise known as Little Miss Flint, provided a great deal of support, as she rallied her social media followers to help promote the cause. The 10-year-old advocate even caught the eye of celebrities such as Mark Ruffalo, who gave fans a call to action to help make this event possible. In total, Little Miss Flint was able to raise over $18,000.
Pack Your Back team members saw the need for this event when they realized how quickly students use up their school supplies throughout the first semester.
“We wanted to send Flint children back to school knowing that they had the tools necessary to succeed in the classroom,” Pack Your Back Founder and Executive Director Galen Miller said. ”We know that not a lot of children get to experience the perfect holiday. Every child deserves to have a merry Christmas, no matter their financial status. Getting to provide that magic to children in need is worth every ounce of hard work that goes into putting on an event like this.”