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Kingston teen fills backpacks with school supplies for families in need

In under two weeks, Katie Onesi has filled over 50 backpacks for families who need them for the coming school year.
In under two weeks, Katie Onesi has filled over 50 backpacks for families who need them for the coming school year. Jennifer Basa / Global News

As September quickly approaches, one Kingston teen has launched a fundraising campaign to help students who are in need of school supplies.

Katie Onesi, 17, has been collecting backpacks filled with school supplies for families who need them for the coming school year.

This is now the second time Onesi has carried out the project.

“I thought it would be a great thing to do,” she said.

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Last year, Onesi says, she was inspired by a post on a buy-and-sell group she saw online that was offering to fill backpacks for students.

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She then decided to donate two backpacks with her own money. But after receiving several comments from people who were willing to donate, she realized there was a great need in the community.

“This year, especially with COVID-19, it’s probably going to be even more stressful for parents to send their kids back to school because some people were laid off or weren’t working as much. “

After launching the project again this year, she has collected over 53 backpacks in under two weeks.

Read more: Kingston woman giving back during pandemic by making masks, donating money

As of Friday, Onesi says she has also collected close to $1,500, doubling the number of backpacks she collected last year.

Local businesses, including Daft Brewery, have also pitched in by donating hand sanitizer for the backpacks.

The backpacks are filled with pencils, paper and binders, and Onesi is now including water bottles as well, as she says water fountains may not be in use during the pandemic.

She recognizes this year will be much different for students, which is why they will require even more supplies in their backpacks when heading back to school.

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“They need COVID supplies, which is why it’s good to include face masks and hand sanitizers and water bottles.”

Despite reaching her goal in monetary donations, Onesi said there is no limit as to how many backpacks she will fill for students.

Read more: Frontenac paramedics receive overwhelming number of PPE donations from Kingston community

She has created a Facebook page where people can contact her regarding dropping off used backpacks or donations.

She plans to wait until she has filled all her bags with the proper supplies before giving them out. She says people will usually contact her to ask for a backpack.

“They usually contact me and then I deliver it to them. It feels more genuine that way.”

Onesi says the best part of this project is when she can hand-deliver the backpacks to those who need it.

“I like seeing the person and seeing how happy they are. That brings me a lot of joy.”