Local student leads Backpack Giveback donation drive

Kalia Roper

Kalia Roper, a seventh grader at St. James Academy in Solana Beach, was looking for an old backpack that would be easy to carry around on the crutches she had been using because of a knee injury.

After finding eight old backpacks in the attic, Kalia realized there were many students throughout San Diego who didn’t have any. That’s what inspired her to launch Backpack Giveback, an effort to collect 500 used backpacks and raise $5,000 online to buy new backpacks and school supplies.

“I noticed how fortunate we were and that mostly San Diego is a wealthy community, so I’m pretty sure everybody has at least a few backpacks floating around,” said Kalia, adding that she read an article about how there are many homeless students who struggle to afford backpacks and other supplies.

The beneficiaries of the backpack drive include the Emilio Nares Foundation, which helps low-income families meet their basic needs, and Father Joe’s Villages, which provides assistance to local residents who are experiencing homelessness.

The drive will run through Aug. 13 and conclude with a party at Staples in Solana Beach, where Kalia said she frequently shops, and an early supporter of the Backpack Giveback.

Drop-offs can be made at Staples and Geppetto’s locations throughout the county, in addition to Canyon Crest Academy, Torrey Pines High School and other local schools.

Kalia said the feedback so far has been positive from the people who have contributed and taken an interest in the effort so far.

“They think it’s amazing that we’re giving back and we’re helping people who are less fortunate and who don’t have any backpacks,” she said.

Kalia added that the backpack drive could become an annual event.

“I believe we can give much-needed backpacks to those who need them the most,” she wrote on the GoFundMe page.

For more information about where to donate and how to contribute, visit backpackgiveback.com or https://gofund.me/6f39922b.