Making a better place, one backpack at a time | SierraSun.com

Making a better place, one backpack at a time

Joanna Hartman
Sierra Sun

Spirited and spunky, Truckee High School freshman class president Tracey Gilmore is dedicated to helping others. When asked how she would make the world a better place, Gilmore went further than most 14-year-olds.

With the help of her church, parents, local nonprofit organizations and her high school leadership class, Gilmore created LovePacks ” a quality backpack filled with school supplies, toiletries, blankets and more ” for children removed from unsafe homes.

The funding to start the program came from a $2,000 grant she received from a Christian youth organization.

Gilmore remembered reading a story about foster children nicknamed “trash bag kids” for having time only to stuff belongings into a black garbage bag before being removed from their homes in the middle of the night. The Chicken Soup for the Soul story resonated with Gilmore and inspired her to put together something that would offer these youth some seed of comfort in distressing times.

“That just wasn’t right,” Gilmore said. “They should have a backpack. Trash bags are for trash. … This might be the only new stuff they have in their foster life. That’s LovePacks.”

Gilmore has contacted both the Reno Police Department and Tahoe Women’s Services to distribute LovePacks and plans to coordinate with other organizations in the future.

“Moving into the safe house can be very traumatic ” it would be really wonderful to have a LovePack to help [the youth] through that change,” said Tahoe Women’s Services family advocate Rosie Striffler.

On Friday, the Truckee High leadership class put together a heap of LovePacks ” 15 went directly to the Reno police and the Gilmore family will distribute another 15 to Tahoe Women’s Services this week.

Gilmore said she has barely put a dent in the $2,000 grant she received in January from the Christian youth organization, Cyworld, because so many others have stepped forward to help. Members from her church donated more than $300, as well as blankets, socks and stuffed animals, to fill the packs. A local Truckee dentist contributed toothbrushes. And the high school leadership is helping to put it all together.

“We haven’t had something like this in a while, where it’s going to others who really, really need help,” said Truckee High senior Clancy Delforge. “During that time when [some children] are taken away they need comfort … they’re in that new environment, new situation and they need something to cling on to.”

Cyworld is documenting Gilmore’s project in an effort to inspire others to take action locally.

“The whole goal of it is to get kids to think outside of themselves and how they really could make their community or their world a better place,” said Tracey’s mother, Judy Gilmore.

Tracey Gilmore plans to maintain fundraising efforts and continue putting the LovePacks together. And she has another three years of high school to solidify her project.

“I want to keep this going forever,” Gilmore said.