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Backpacks help families ‘in greatest need’

LIHUE — Kadee Parubrub is marking her 10th birthday by helping other children — she’s helping sponsor backpacks of school supplies for needy families through the Backpack Brigade. 

“This is the second year she’s done this,” said her mother, Sherri Parubrub. “Instead of receiving birthday presents, Kadee asks her family and friends for donated items which she distributes through random acts of kindness. Last year, she did nine random acts of kindness, one for each year. This year, her goal is 10 so she’s starting early.” 

Last week, Parubrub cut short a field trip to help two Guildas, Sharon Lasker and Lois Prall, unload the first of the backpacks needed by children identified by the Child & Family Services as those who could use assistance in getting back to school. 

“With school starting back up on July 29, it’s putting pressure on the CFS Guildas to get the Backpack Brigade going full speed ahead,” said Sharon Lasker, the 2015 Backpack Brigade chair. “Last year, we were able to fill all of the needs of families with 220 backpacks. This year, our goal is 250 backpacks to serve the children ‘in greatest need’ on Kauai.” 

Lasker said helping those children is simple. 

“Simply let me know, and I will forward your name to one of the Guildas assisting on computers,” Lasker said. “They will send you a child’s (fictitious) name, sex, name of school attending, and the grade. If you would like to participate, and would rather someone else do the shopping, no worries — send a check made out to Child & Family Service Kauai and jot ‘Backpack Brigade’ on the check. We will then do the shopping for you.” 

The Guildas, numbering about 300 people on Kauai, are the benevolent arm of Child & Family Service, explained Lasker. 

“The Backpack Brigade is one of our two major events, the other being a drive during the holidays to help families,” Lasker said. “We all remember going off to school with our brand new backpack filled with school supplies, secure in our dreams for the new school year. The Backpack Brigade helps bring this dream to children in greatest need because there are some who need help.” 

The final collection date for turning in the filled backpacks is July 11 at the Kukui Grove Center, across from Starbucks. 

Kadee Parubrub said she knows a few children who can use help. 

“This started out as a school project,” she said. “It ended up being a birthday random act of kindness. Last year, we helped the Backpack Brigade, did food drives for the food banks, gave Starbucks gift cards to teachers, and even gave roses to random people. This is my birthday in July.” 

Novelyn Hinazumi, CFS director of Kauai programs, said the names of the children come from CFS workers who identify families during their work. 

Last year, CFS Kauai served approximately 1,300 families on Kauai through its umbrella of 16 programs administered through two family centers and five Head Start locations. 

“This does not include the food pantry programs at the two family center sites,” Hinazumi said. “The food pantry programs add another 600 individuals to the numbers.” 

Lasker said because there is a lack of room at the CFS facilities this year, Kukui Grove Center has offered a space where the backpack collections take place and the filled backpacks can be stored before being distributed. 

For more information, call Lasker at 652-6534 or email salasker@gmail.com. 

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