An Interview with Montana Checkoff of Tools for Schools
Although this year brought some unexpected obstacles for our annual Backpack Drive, we’ve come out successful to help the families we serve in time for the new academic year ahead. We were very fortunate to receive an outpouring of donations from local churches, businesses, and individuals the in support of our virtual backpack drive. Another reason behind this year’s success is the overwhelming donation from Tools for Schools, a teen-lead initiative that provides students with backpacks and school supplies in the South Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania area.
We had the chance to chat with the president of the organization, Montana Checkoff, to learn a little more about this life-changing fundraising experience.
On a beautiful, sunny day in Philadelphia, a warehouse parking lot was packed with volunteers, coordinators, and boxes upon boxes of school supplies to be organized into backpacks. This year, Tools for Schools is packing a personal record of 2,500 backpacks for those in need across the region. When asked about the choice to include Acenda in this year’s list of recipients, Checkoff explains, “We’re packing more and more backpacks every year. We have an opportunity to donate to more organizations like Acenda and that’s an amazing thing.”
The pandemic threw a wrench in the normal backpacking process, but that didn’t stop Checkoff and her team from regrouping and strategizing to keep the fundraiser successful. They switched to virtual meetings to discuss their options and find out exactly what schools needed. Checkoff notes, “Their need is even higher now because the kids are unable to share or borrow from their teachers, so we’re working really hard to make everything happen.”
All of the hard work and adaptation is worth it in the end. Tools for Schools donated 300 backpacks to Acenda and we are incredibly grateful for their generosity. With the support of Tools for Schools and other generous donors, we now have the ability to change the lives of students and families in our area.
“What we think about is the fact that these families have to decide between paying for their meals for the week or paying for their backpacks and school supplies for a year. These kids get so excited when they get to have their new supplies and their brand-new backpack with unicorns or llamas on it. When we see the smile on those kids’ faces it’s really just the most rewarding thing.” We couldn’t agree more, Montana!