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Three girls raise funds for Backpack Buddies of Poplarville

Three girls raised $2,300 for nonprofit Backpack Buddies of Poplarville within 48 hours.
Lori Barrett was looking for activities for her two daughters to do while they were home due to school closures. The family also wanted to find a way to help someone else during the pandemic.

With Barrett’s encouragement, her daughters 10-year-old Abeni and 8-year-old Annistan, along with their best friend 10-year-old Braelyn Lee, decided to paint rocks and small pieces of wood and offer them on Facebook in exchange for donations to Backpack Buddies of Poplarville.

Backpack Buddies provides free food to children in Poplarville during the school year. Lee’s grandmother is a volunteer with the nonprofit, which inspired the choice.

“We put it out there expecting some family members to give, but we had no idea that there would be such a huge response,” said Barrett.

The Facebook post and donate button went online Tuesday afternoon and had raised $1,200 by Wednesday night, said Backpack Buddies organizer Carol Williams. By Thursday, the three girls had raised $2,045 through Facebook and received additional donations in the form of checks and cash delivered to Backpack Buddies, said Williams.

“When we start back in August, this is going to make things so much easier for us, because we’re starting out with a gift we weren’t expecting,” said Williams.

The nonprofit normally spends $500 a week to provide free food to 137 kids, so the fundraiser will provide meals for five weeks, said Williams.

Backpack Buddies will continue to distribute food for the last two weeks of the school year, and then begin offering free meals again in August. The nonprofit makes sure Poplarville kids stay fed over the weekends when they don’t receive food from school.

The girls have been delivering the painted rocks by leaving them on front porches and in mailboxes, said Barrett.