Backpacks and school supplies are essential for a great start to the school year, so 10-year-old Flint, Mich., resident Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny made it her priority to ensure that every student in her hometown entered class on the right foot.
Mari, famously known as “Little Miss Flint,” raised over $10,000 online in just two weeks to collect and distribute more than 1,000 backpacks to local students, according to MLive. The elementary school student, who gained nationwide attention after inviting former President Barack Obama to visit the lead-stricken city, teamed up with nonprofit company “Pack Your Back” to pass out free bookbags and school supplies at a community event Sunday, Aug. 6.
“We need to help kids in Flint that can’t afford a backpack or school supplies, so the people can go to school,” Mari said. “School is important. Education is life.”
Central Michigan University student Galen Miller, who founded the Pack Your Back nonprofit, partnered with four other students to start the organization last year out of a desire to give back to the city in the wake of the devastating water crisis. Miller said he especially wanted to help Flint’s children by supplying efforts for a better education.
“No child should have to go through this, and I knew we had to help more,” he told MLive. “Our goal is to enhance the educational experience for underprivileged students in Michigan by giving them the tools and resources to succeed in the classroom.”
Last year was Little Miss Flint’s first attempt at the #PackYourBack social media challenge, where she managed to enough cash for 100 student bookbags. This year, she set an even higher goal and increased her yield almost tenfold.
“She amazes me with every new task that she throws at me. She wants to do backpacks, we’ll do backpacks. She wants to get to the moon, we’ll try to get her to the moon,” said Mari’s mother, LuLu Brezzell. “Whatever she’s down for in her goals, I guess I’m just along for the ride.
“I will do everything in my power to make it possible.”
MLive reported that local teachers will receive the remaining bookbags and school supplies that were not picked up to pass out among students who may need them in the first week of school.
While providing free backpacks is one way to help rebuild Flint after the crisis, Mari said it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that there’s still much work to be done.
“Flint kids are amazing, but we’re still dealing with the water crisis and somebody needs to fix all of these pipes,” she said. “I don’t like using bottled water for everything, and I miss taking baths in clean water. The water now still gives me bad rashes and it smells like fish and stanky old feet.
“They need to fix it for us kids.”