For the last eleven years, we have handed out generously filled backpacks to the men and women who are our guests at lunch. The men and women we see daily are rarely remembered at Christmas. For many, these backpacks were their only presents. There were always lots of smiles on Backpack Day at the soup kitchen.
Sadly, due to COVID, we can’t celebrate a 12th year of Backpack Giveaway in our usual way. Our dining room, where we’ve handed out backpacks and let guests choose their size and color, is closed due to the pandemic. In addition, we are only allowing a smaller number of volunteers into the building so we won’t have enough help to sort and organize backpacks.
Instead, this year we are planning a Knapsack Giveaway in mid-December. We plan to buy knapsacks in two colors, one for men and one for women, and fill them with essential items including toiletries, hats, gloves, and scarves. We will hand out the knapsacks from the front door just as we hand out hot meals every day.
Last year we gave away over 800 backpacks. We’re assuming that we will need that many or more knapsacks this year. We are once again asking for your help to fill the knapsacks.
We are looking for donations of toiletries such as deodorant, hand lotion for hands chapped by the cold, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, shaving cream, razors, chapstick, etc. Cold weather items such as gloves, hats, and scarves are needed. We would like to also include a small treat such as candy bars, chips, etc. Since the backpacks are a Christmas gift, all items should be new.
Items can be dropped off at Daily Bread, 116 N. First Street, Champaign, from 9 a.m. to 12 P.M. every day. Please use the back door on the alley when dropping off items. Donations can also be dropped off at Ellen Harms’ (705 S. Elm Blvd. 356-2551) at Pam Hagle’s (713 S. Elm Blvd. 359-3245) or at Ruthann Evans’ (4414 Crossgate Dr. 398-5687). Tax forms will be available. And don’t forget to wear your mask!
We are extremely grateful to everyone who participated in past Backpack Giveaways and all who participate in this year’s Knapsack Giveaway. Thank you for bringing some of the joy and magic of the season to the guests at Daily Bread during this very difficult year.
This year, you bring the STUFF, and we’ll STUFF the knapsacks. And, hopefully, in 2021, we will all be back in the backpack business again!