Daniel Grover, a Boy Scout from Troop 503, hopes to make an impact on foster children heading back to school with a donation of 100 backpacks filled with supplies.
Daniel, 14, will be a sophomore at West High School. He delivered the backpacks to the EA Family Services foster family agency July 18 as a community service project toward his Eagle Scout award.
“We decided to benefit the foster agency because we knew that there were some kids who would be moving around just as the school year started and they might not have time to get the things they needed, so we wanted to give those kids a chance to have a good start on the school year they may not have had before,” Daniel said.
The new backpacks were filled with school supplies: a binder, a folder, a notebook, a pack of paper, crayons, colored pencils, markers, pencils, pens and erasers.
“It was tricky organizing everything just because of the amount of supplies involved,” Daniel said. “We had a ton and ton of stuff, so we had to figure out a way to organize it and a way to efficiently get the backpacks put together.”
He started planning in October and got the project rolling in May by collecting money from friends and family to buy the backpacks. To collect the school supplies to fill them, he set up a booth outside Walmart on July 6. Family members, friends and fellow Scouts helped him assemble the packs and supplies.
The total donation is worth about $1,500, which includes a check for $348 and some extra folders, pencils and crayons.
Brittany Ibarra, a case manager at the foster agency, was thankful for the backpacks.
“This is a special donation because we are constantly getting kids in care throughout the entire year. Sometimes we get a placement at midnight and the kids come with nothing and the next day they are expected to enroll in school and all that,” Ibarra said. “With already having that chaos in their life for foster care, they don’t want to stand out, so just being able to provide them with all the essentials, a backpack filled with all the necessary things they need to blend in at school, that aids in making the kids feel like there is a little piece of normalcy for them.”
Ibarra said the agency works with 150 children and young adults, from infancy to age 21, out of the Tracy office at 682 N. Central Ave. Elementary, middle and high school students and even college students in a transitional housing program will be able to receive Daniel’s backpacks.
She said it is hard to find donations for foster kids.
“School-age children and above are the most neglected when it comes to donations, because people want to get stuff for babies and toddlers because it’s cute, and they forget about the older kids like teenagers and how important it is,” Ibarra said.
She thought the donations would be a big hit with the kids the agency helps.
“It still is the responsibility of the foster parent to provide, but it’s not a requirement to get brand-new supplies, and some of these kids have never had the opportunity,” Ibarra said, “so just to be able to bless the kids with brand-new stuff and give them some happiness for a little bit is awesome.”
Some of the backpacks have already been given to kids who will be starting school in the first weeks of August. Ibarra said other backpacks will be handed out to kids who enter foster care in the middle of the year.
She said the donation was the largest organized by youth that the agency has received.
“We’ve never had a teenager put on a fundraiser of this magnitude to date,” she said.
“We appreciate Daniel and his troop because, being a nonprofit, we just can’t go out and purchase supplies like this all the time without the community’s support. And it’s definitely going to impact these children that receive them.”