Backpack Heroes program collects new backpacks and school supplies for children

Cookeville – Youth Villages is preparing to give more than 1,500 children, families and young people, receiving services in Middle Tennessee, the items they need to go back to school.

The Backpack Heroes program collects new backpacks and school supplies for children, who have experienced trauma or have a history of emotional or behavioral health issues, to receive the items they need to start school.

“The youth we serve want to be like every other kid at school and deserve to have the same supplies as them,” said Julie Abbott, community engagement manager at Youth Villages. “Our supporters are not only providing school supplies to better prepare our youth, but they are also providing a sense of pride and normalcy to these children and young people, who have very little of their own.”

The program will serve all counties in Middle Tennessee facilitated out of offices in Nashville, Clarksville, Columbia, Cookeville and Dickson.

In addition to new backpacks and school supplies, the program aims to raise $50,000 to provide new laptops to local young people who are exiting foster care at age 18 and will be attending secondary education this fall with the help of a matching grant from a local family foundation. When these young people leave the foster care system, they have little to no support and need help and guidance from the LifeSet program as they transition into independent adulthood.

“Laptops are critical to our young people’s success,” Abbott said. “Most schoolwork, job applications and even job training are only accessible online and without technology, our young people are put at a disadvantage amongst their peers. Having a laptop is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity and an expectation, and without one, the youth we serve are left behind.”

Last year, Youth Villages provided laptops to every young person in LifeSet who was pursuing higher education or entering the workforce. This support is ongoing, and the organization plans to provide new supplies and technology support to youth entering their service throughout the entire school year. 

For more information about Backpack Heroes or to make a donation, which will be doubled by the matching grant, visit Middle Tennessee Backpack Heroes ( or contact Julie Abbott at

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