13-Year-Old Expands Charity to Help Peers Get School Supplies

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Backpacks collected by Backpack Buddies charity Backpacks collected by Backpack Buddies charity

For many kids, the best part of going back to school is back to school shopping. But not every family can afford to buy new supplies each school year. Now, a group of young girls is stepping in and raising money to help their peers.

Lucia Hoerr started her charity organization - Backpack Buddies -  when she was just nine years old. "Each week when I was nine, I would give part of my allowance to a charity that I would choose, a local charity in Charlottesville, so it made me feel so proud that I just wanted to do more," she said.

That's when she started meeting with people from the Central Virginia Boys & Girls Club and came up with the idea for Backpack Buddies. By age 10, she was collecting and filling backpacks for kids at the Boys & Girls Club.

"I just knew that every school year I loved going school supply shopping and it was one of the most fun parts of just getting ready for school and then when I found out from the Boys and Girls Club that some kids can't afford to buy the supplies each year I knew what I wanted to do," Hoerr said.

Now at age 13, with help from her friends and family, it's continuing to grow and provide school supplies and smiles to area children. The first year, in the summer of 2010, they filled 61 backpacks, and 75 in 2011. Last year, they filled 91,  and this year the goal is 100 backpacks.

"I want to keep expanding it every year and making my goal higher and higher. And hopefully I can help out more and more kids each year," said Hoerr.

Hoerr has already collected 38 backpacks for students from kindergarten through 8th grade so far this year.  At the end of the summer she and her friends will go on a shopping spree for all the supplies, then they'll spend a day filling all the backpacks and dropping them off at the Boys & Girls Club.

"Last year when I dropped them off, the Boys & Girls Club was filled with kids and they were all running around and saying 'Oh, it's the backpack girl' and that just made my day, it just made me so happy," she said.

If you'd like to help Backpack Buddies and donate school supplies, backpacks, or make a monetary donation, click here.