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Grassroots Backpack Heroes invite community over for lemonade

A fundraiser this Saturday, featuring a lemonade stand and 'other things' will support a local non-profit in their goal of giving away more than 500 backpacks full of school supplies this year

Brandi Woolner knows a little support can go a long way — especially when it comes to students. 

Woolner is the founder of Backpack Heroes, a Collingwood-based non-profit that supports local students by providing them with new backpacks and school supplies. 

“Every student deserves the chance to succeed. Something as simple as not having a pencil to take a note could make or break a test,” said Woolner. “In order to succeed, you need the supplies.”

Growing up, Woolner loved school, but her family did not have the means to provide her with a new backpack or fresh school supplies every year.

“I knew what it was like to constantly borrow pens and pencils off my friends,” she said. 

The Collingwood mom of two started Backpack Heroes after seeing a post on Facebook by a local mother looking for help buying school supplies for her children. At the time, Woolner’s kids weren’t in school yet, so she reached out, happy to help. 

“I realized there was a need for this kind of service,” she said. She reached out to her network and shared the need she was seeing, and they all pitched in that year to help.

Backpack Heroes officially incorporated in 2020 and helps students of all ages with back-to-school supplies as well as anything students could need throughout the school year. The group runs all year long and has now added chapters in Barrie and Mount Forest as well. 

Woolner estimates that about 500 backpacks were given out in Collingwood last year alone.

“Needs change throughout the year, so I love that I can offer that kind of support all year long,” she said. 

This weekend, Woolner is hosting a fundraiser at her home in Collingwood to help raise money for the upcoming school year. 

The event, called Lemonade and Things, will take place on Saturday (July 2) at 58 Barr St. in Collingwood. Woolner’s daughter will be operating a homemade lemonade stand selling cold drinks and baked goods, with all of the proceeds going towards Backpack Heroes. There will also be a garage sale and people can drop off school supplies and other donations. 

More than anything, Woolner said the event is about promoting Backpack Heroes' mission and connecting with the community. 

“This is the first time where the community is going to get to meet me and see what we’re doing,” she said. 

Woolner has converted her garage into a warehouse where she keeps all of the supplies for Backpack Heroes, and she wants the community to come out and see how she operates. 

“I am just really hoping for more of a turnout just to meet people and for people to see what we do,” said Woolner. “Bring some normalcy back to non-profits, if you will.”

This year, they are hoping to be able to help another 500 students in need, “if not more,” Woolner said. 

To get involved with Backpack Heroes or for more information on the initiative, visit their website or Facebook page.

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Maddie Johnson

About the Author: Maddie Johnson

Maddie Johnson is an early career journalist working in financial, small business, adventure and lifestyle reporting. She studied Journalism at the University of King's College, and worked in Halifax, Malta and Costa Rica before settling in Collingwood
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