BAY VILLAGE, Ohio — Kristen Wander says she recently noticed school backpacks scattered around her house; each one representing the end of a school year for daughter Emily.
“Every year the backpacks have to get bigger so every year we have to get a new backpack,” she said.
Wander says instead of throwing those backpacks out, she and her daughter decided to use them for good. They came up with the idea to use fill them with things like socks, blankets, toiletries, food and water.
Emily’s friend, Annie Korth, says she wanted to help.
“On the weekends we just stuff them and I bring stuff over from my house, to help fill them,” Korth said.
The trio says the good deed was also sparked by the growing need across Northeast Ohio because of the pandemic. Not to mention, the colder temperatures those without homes will soon face. Wander, who works downtown, says she has noticed more people without homes on the street.
"I think a lot of people see the homeless people on the street and just turn the other way,” she said. “I’m handing these backpacks to people and I’m talking with them and getting their names and letting these people know that there are people out there who see them and that we care.”
She says the response is sometimes a bit overwhelming. She recalls one encounter where a man proposing to her to thank her.
But the trio’s actions are also moving as they strive to make a difference.
“It makes me feel really good to know that people really care that we’re doing this and that they feel really happy when we give it to them. It makes me feel really happy at least to know that we’re doing something good,” Emily said.
If you'd like to help, you can drop off donated items at the Bay Village Police Department located at 28000 Wolf Road. There's a collection box near the front entrance.