LAFAYETTE, La – Gifting Grace Project, Acadiana’s Homeless Children Outreach, invites the public to participate in their First Annual ‘Pack the Backpack’ Drive; a back-to-school initiative with a goal to collect and distribute 500 backpacks for homeless children in the greater Acadiana area. Backpacks will be filled with school supplies, new/gently used uniforms and new shoes for the 2021-2022 school year.
“At the close of last school year, Lafayette Parish had enrolled a total of 1,352 homeless children. That number stunned me, and then to think that’s only the children who have been identified within the school year and only in Lafayette Parish” stated David Owens, Gifting Grace’s President and Founder. “The statistics shook me. I knew I had to do something to help support these kids and let them know there was hope".
Gifting Grace is collecting school supplies through Friday, August 6th at locations throughout Acadiana. Donation drop-offs include all Gulf Coast Banks in Lafayette Parish, Absolutely Custom Apparel, Traditions Health, Riches Y-Not-Stop, The Natural Path, MC Bank and Ann Raush - State Farm.
“The top five items we are most in need of are black dry erase markers, marble composition notebooks, filler paper, plastic folders with prongs, mechanical pencils: large pink erasers and 3-subject notebooks” outlines David. “Supplies for grades 5th-8th are in short supply”.
In addition to the donations of school supplies, Gifting Grace is need of roughly 15 additional volunteers to help put the supplies in the backpacks. They are starting at 9am on Saturday, August 7th at the new, state of the art Mendoza Ford facility in Maurice, Louisiana.
“I’m honored and proud to support Gifting Grace’s mission and will be present with my family and the community to help our neighbors experiencing homelessness prepare for a successful school year”, states Leigh Ann Ripka, Let’s Vibe’s CEO and Gifting Grace’s Partner in planning Pack the Backpack. “I can’t imagine any child facing the challenges associated with being homeless. It’s incredibly important that we as a community come together to provide for the defenseless'' she concludes. To learn more about how you can contribute, and volunteer visit the website of Gifting Grace Project here.
Founded in the fall of 2020, David Owens created Gifting Grace Project with the purpose of giving back to his community for Christmas. He states that he “felt burdened to give back toward the end of one of the hardest years Acadiana has seen in recent history”. He wasn't exactly sure what he would do until he made a phone call to a former colleague who now works for the Lafayette Parish School System. Through this conversation, he learned that as of October 2020, almost 800 students were enrolled in the Homeless Education Department and realized that this is where he had to help. Little did he know that one phone call would set him on the course to starting Gifting Grace Project with a mission to freely love, serve and support the Homeless Children of Acadiana.