HOLLAND, Mich., — As kids across West Michigan headed back to class this week, a Holland second grader continues to be focused on helping kids in Haiti as they head back to school next month.
Brayden DenBleyker launched “Operation Brayden’s Backpacks” in early August to collect backpacks and other supplies for Haitian children.
The eight-year-old was moved to act after seeing some of the pictures his mother took during a trip to the country earlier this summer.
“When I saw the pictures, I saw kids that didn’t really have good backpacks, like ripped up old backpacks, boys had girl backpacks,” he told FOX 17 News. “I saw kids with ripped up shoes.”
Rachel DenBleyker has traveled to Haiti several times to work with the Haiti Foundation Against Poverty (HFAP), but she says this trip really struck a chord with her son.
“He’s heard about it, but just seeing those pictures, it brought it home for him,” she explained. “He just wondered why they didn’t have the right school equipment.”
With help from the community and the family’s church– North Holland Reform Church– donations have poured in. So far, more than 60 backpacks have been collected and stuffed with donated school supplies. Dozens of shoes have also been donated.
Brayden’s goal is more than 200 backpackpacks to send to Les Bour’s School of HOPE, a ministry of the HFAP.
“Since the earthquake, families have been struggling just to find food for their children, so to go to school, that’s just a huge blessing for them,” explained Brayden’s mom.
The family plans to keep the backpack/school supply drive running through October. DenBleyker said kids in Haiti will not start school until next month.
“I feel good about what I’ve done,” Brayden said. “I’m hoping that it will help them have a better school year and a better life.”
Anyone who would like to donate school supplies or a new/gently used backpack, can drop the items off North Holland Reformed Church (12050 New Holland St) during office hours Monday and Tuesday 8 to noon or Wednesday evenings.
Anyone with questions can also contact the church at 616-399-1578 for more hours or to schedule a pick up.
For more information on the Haiti Foundation Against Poverty, click here.