How One Couple Helped 6000 Children In Need

February 18, 2020

It’s that time of year again. The time when South Australian families begin…

It’s that time of year again. The time when South Australian families begin preparing their children for the next stage of their schooling lives.

Shopping baskets are filled with the essentials: new backpacks, lunchboxes, textbooks and stationary, shoes to replace the pair with worn-out soles and some extra uniforms.

While some parents might find this to be an exciting process, others dread the task.

But for the Mums and Dads who have lost everything in the devastating bushfires that have swept across the state, it is almost certainly the last thing on their minds. Instead, they are focused on piecing together whatever little they have left and begin to rebuild their lives.

Brad and Karen Flinn recognised this, but also understood the importance of education and the stress involved in getting children ready for the new school year. Afterall, Brad, who has been a member at The Gym Glenelg for about five years, works at Pembroke School and sees firsthand the excitement of students at the beginning of the term.

And that’s how the couple to came to launch Backpacks for Bushfires – a charity campaign that aims to support those affected by the fires across South Australia, and in particular on Kangaroo Island, by providing school backpacks to families in need.

Brad and Karen started the initiative soon after the bushfires began, using Instagram as a means to generate awareness for their campaign and asking people to donate backpacks filled with lunchboxes, drink bottles, pencil cases and stationary.

“We thought of the families affected by the bushfires: what they were going through now and what they would be going through in the coming months,” Brad said.

“One of those things was that their children would be heading back to school and if these families left the homes in a hurry to save their lives, they probably wouldn’t be prioritising their school bags.

“Backpacks for Bushfires was our small way of supporting these families.”

Posting content every day and gaining traction with the help of local media outlets, the pair collected 1500 backpacks – tailored to both boy and girls. Support from the community was so strong they had to cease donations as of January 17.

They were also approached by mothers from Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland looking to launch sister campaigns, of which were equally as successful. Between the four states, about 6000 backpacks were received.

“We have been overwhelmed by the response to this initiative,” Brad said.

“The idea seemed to really strike a nerve with the Australian people with Backpacks for Bushfires being one of the most rewarding things we have ever done.

“It has been an incredible experience – all of this from one Instagram page. We could not feel more proud.”

Brad and Karen are currently working with Backpacks for SA Kids and the State Government to deliver the backpacks to families living in the Adelaide Hills, with Foodbank SA providing further support to send the backpacks to Kangaroo Island.

Surplus backpacks will be sent interstate or go directly to other children in need, including those from disadvantaged families or victims of domestic violence.

We would like to commend Brad and Karen for their efforts during this difficult time.

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