Teenagers are very impressionable. They are in a stage of their life when choices become an integral part of their future as an adult. And sometimes those choices are so astounding, they deserve a moment in the spotlight.
Meet brothers Jackson and Tristan Kelley from West Roxbury, MA. At only 16 and 14 year old respectively, they are two brothers on a mission to make a difference, leaving a footprint in history that will no doubt become an inspiration for others to follow.
With the help of their parents and younger sister Violet, the two brothers have started a non-profit charity called Backpacks for New Beginnings (BP4NB), which is dedicated to improving the lives of underprivileged children.
More specifically, BP4NB helps children in foster care, group homes, and the homeless at the start of the school year by providing them with new backpacks filled with school supplies.
“Giving back is a big part of our family philosophy,” the boys’ mother Heather Kelley explains to America’s Footprints. “They were exposed to a variety of charitable organizations starting at a very young age, and one day decided they wanted to be more involved. So we started our own charity.”
The initial idea for BP4NB came about when the two boys noticed children coming to school carrying their books in shopping bags. After realizing the parents of these children may have fallen on difficult financial times, they not only wanted to donate backpacks, but they also wanted the kids a little something extra to start the year off right.
So starting in 2009, they purchased almost 200 backpacks and stuffed them with the school supplies children needed. And as the years have progressed, BP4NB has donated over 4500 new backpacks stuffed with school supplies, including 1100 just this past summer, to needy children in the Boston area.
“When a child receives a new backpack it allows them to feel special, fit in with others, and start the school year prepared,” says Heather. “It has been one of the most rewarding experiences in their lives. And the older they get, the more they understand how important it is to give back.”
Just recently the family has started hosting a Backpack Stuffing event at Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood, MA, which has helped bring more awareness and support to their campaign, in addition to providing more space for them to work in.
“We spent years shopping at Walmart and Target each week to buy the items on sale, and would fill three or four carts,” Heather explains.
“We ran out of room to store the backpacks and supplies. So moving the supply storage to the boys school and having a backpack stuffing event was life changing for us.”
And when we asked Heather what the most rewarding part of their mission has been, the answer was simple: “smiles.”
“The children are so excited that they get to choose a backpack for themselves. But then their faces really light up when they realize there are supplies inside.
The smiles on their faces and their comments about how they cannot wait to start school make all the hard work worthwhile.”
The Kelley family also enjoys hearing from the parents who are able to present their kids with new backpacks.
“The parents are thrilled to be able to do this for their kids, and the kids are proud to be able to start the first day of school with their new backpack like everyone else.”
BP4NB has worked hard to bring awareness to their cause. But they also want kids to know that they, too, CAN make a difference.
“Doing something for others is so important for kids to learn early so that they can realize how good it feels,” Heather shares. “Start small and choose something you can relate to. Solicit help from family, friends, and schools. They are happy to help when asked, especially for a worthy cause.”
If you would like to learn more about BP4NB and/or donate, you can find them at BP4NB.ORG.