Backpack Heroes-1

Dedra Watkins and Monica Foster of Youth Villages are the local coordinators for the nonprofit's annual Backpack Heroes drive to provide school supplies to kids in need. The nonprofit is partnering with Trend Designs Salon in Jeffersonville to sign people up for sponsorships. 

JEFFERSONVILLE — A Jeffersonville business is collaborating with a nonprofit to make sure kids have what they need to start their school year on the right foot.

Youth Villages, a national nonprofit with an office in Jeffersonville, recently kicked off its annual Backpack Heroes drive to donate backpacks full of school supplies to children in need. This year, it has started a new partnership with Trend Designs Salon in Jeffersonville to help community members sign up for sponsorships.

Backpack Heroes started June 18, and it goes until July 26. Sponsors can drop off the school supplies at Youth Villages' office, located at 131 E. Court Ave. in Jeffersonville. At Trend Designs Salon, located at 1441 Youngstown Shopping Center, people can speak with a receptionist about sponsoring a child and pick up a list of needed school supplies for individual children in the area.

Youth Villages, which offers home-based services to help stabilize the lives of vulnerable children and families, is collecting supplies for about 60 local kids specifically served by the nonprofit. Needed supplies include items such as new backpacks, notebooks, tissues, glue sticks, pencils and pens and note cards.

Monica Foster, a senior team leader for Youth Villages in Jeffersonville, said staff at Youth Villages see many families in the area who are struggling to provide basic needs such as school supplies for children. She wants children to have "the confidence they need to start school and feel comfortable that they know they have everything."

She said providing school supplies helps decrease stress and anxiety for families and kids.

"It becomes a snowball effect of when children don’t have the things that they need, they’re not wanting to attend school, and we’re seeing an increase in truancy in other areas and struggles for the family," Foster said. "Overall, it’s just a great support that we’re able to provide for the community and for the families that we serve."

This is the first year that Trend Designs has participated in the Backpack Heroes program. Foster, who used to work there as a salon coordinator, said the owners were enthusiastic when she reached out to the business about the idea of partnership. She hopes their collaboration will facilitate growth for the Backpack Heroes program.

"They were excited to partner and collaborate with us this year and provide this facility as an access for the community to come by and get these envelopes and kind of talk up what we do a little bit for this program," she said.

Dyan Henley, co-owner of Trend Designs, said she feels blessed to be involved in the Backpack Heroes program.

"I feel like it’s a good program to get kids a good start, and education is what it’s all about anyway," she said. "It’s a good way to help a kid, so if we can be a part of that, we are happy to do that."

Dedra Watkins, regional supervisor for Youth Villages, said people can also donate school supplies or money without becoming a sponsor to support families served by the nonprofit. The donations help take the pressure off of families who are facing many stressors, she said.

"Starting off the school year right is a huge positive for these children, and they need that, so we see such relief from the parents, and we see excitement from the kids," Watkins said.

Foster said when kids receive their bags full of supplies, she often sees relief from the parents and excitement from the children. She hopes to see more community members become involved in the Backpack Heroes program to give students a strong start to their school year.

"We want to see these families be successful," she said. "We want to see them thrive. We want to be able to have success"