A Portsmouth teenager is helping less fortunate kids head back to school in style.
As the new school year approaches, some kids might struggle when it comes to school supplies, but 13-year-old Willow Foregger is hoping to change that.
"I didn't want to have a lazy summer, you know? I wanted to do something I would remember, and other people would remember," said Foregger. "I thought this summer, I wanted to do something that would make a difference."
Foregger is heading into eighth grade at the Pennfield School. She said it's an eighth -grade requirement to do community service.
"It's good to have a goal when you do things and once you accomplish it, it feels really good to accomplish it," she said.
While many kids might wait until the school year begins or final months leading up to summer break, she got a jump start.
Initially, she said she had planned to host a backpack fundraiser regardless of whether or not it would be accepted as her community service, but she said she got the OK, which made things even better.
"Especially with COVID-19 and knowing everybody is going back to school, I wanted to help kids because most kids in homeless shelters can't afford them,' she said. "So, first I first created my website and I created a GoFundMe as well."
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Foregger, her family, and friends advertised about her backpack fundraiser on social media for weeks.
The GoFundMe page raised a few thousand dollars, so she was able to go shopping for the backpacks and school supplies she stuffed them with.
"Each one has about three notebooks, three folders, two glue sticks, electric pencils, pens, scissors, water bottles, depending on the age group there is a difference," she said "My mom's friend was an old player on the Red Sox, so he did a donation of 50 of these new hats. So, I put them in 50 backpacks. I did send texts to a lot of my adult friends and my family's adult friends and their response was that they loved it. They were like, 'This is awesome.' I appreciate that so much and I've come to think that everybody wants to make this world a better world. I think they want to help and it's very nice of them."
To date, about 101 backpacks of all kinds, colors, and brands have been purchased and stuffed.
Foregger said she spent a few extra donation dollars to purchase good, quality backpacks for the kids that will receive them.
"I want to help my kids who can't really afford the things that I can afford or my friends and I think it will put a smile on their face," said Foregger. "I think having a good, nice quality backpack you can use for a long time is great. If you have a bad backpack, you don't have the best confidence, if that makes sense, and with good quality backpacks. I think it makes them feel better about themselves and studies show, which is kind of crazy, that with the right school supplies their education goes up, and their grades go up, and their behavior goes up."
Foregger said she's been reaching out to different programs and facilities in Rhode Island and Massachusetts in hopes of getting them into the hands of kids who need them the most.
"These will be going to multiple homeless shelters around and some in Fall River," she said. "It was very hard to do but I think it's going towards something good and it's definitely going to be definitely worth it."
Foregger said she is still accepting donations until further notice.
For more information, backpacksforacause.com.