http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2008/08/29/labor-of-love


DanvilleSanRamon.com

Living - August 29, 2008

Labor of love

Danville girls work to make sure kids have backpacks for school

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Madison and Mackinsey Mascali, 11 and 8, have been busy getting their backpacks ready for school. More than 200 of them.

The Danville sisters launched Packs with Love last summer to provide backpacks full of supplies for school children who would not otherwise be able to afford them.

"My dad owned a business in Richmond and every time we'd go there we'd see kids going to school without supplies," recalled Madison. "Before that we'd fed people in a homeless shelter (in San Jose), but I wanted to do something closer to home."

It was mostly a family affair last year as the two sisters collected and filled 240 backpacks, organizing them in their driveway. Then their mom Carol drove them to Richmond to deliver the goods to school officials.

"When we handed the backpacks out to the principals they were really happy and that made us feel good," said Mackinsey.

This year the Mascalis got word out to potential donors through schools. word of mouth, neighbors and sports teams.

"Since we live in such an amazing area and are so blessed, we thought it would be great to help other kids our own age that don't have all that we do," read a flier the girls distributed. "Your support will really help us make other kids feel special."

All summer they were busy picking up donations and washing the backpacks and buying supplies. They collected $1,200, which they used to buy new school items.

But this year the girls not only requested donations of backpacks and money for new supplies, they also asked for help assembling the back-to-school items. On Tuesday morning last week their driveway was a beehive of activity as girls and boys went about their assigned tasks.

"We wanted to show kids how good it feels to help," said Madison.

One table held brightly colored erasers and pencil sharpeners, which went into small plastic bags to be put into the packs. At another station, young volunteers decorated labels to let the recipients know they were receiving Packs with Love; they added messages of cheer, such as "You're the best" and "Be true to yourself."

The Mascali sisters had organized the items in a line that began with stacks of empty backpacks in the driveway and ended in the garage where the full backpacks were carefully laid in rows. In between were the school supplies, including a sweatshirt for each student.

It was mainly a children's effort. When they went shopping for school supplies, they would buy extras to donate to the cause.

"A lot of people donated their allowance," said mom Carol Mascali.

Madison and Mackinsey also involved their grandparents, who came from the town of Exeter to take part. Grandma made two runs to Target for notebooks, while Grandpa refilled the supply bins from the stash inside the house.

The girls, who both attend Valley Christian in Dublin, asked for donations from classmates at school, said their mother, and during the summer through word of mouth. They also received donations of 900 jackets and sweatshirts - which formed a veritable mountain in the living room - that they were planning to give to shelters.

Last week Madison organized the young volunteers into shifts. She planned to stop the first shift after half the backpacks were assembled so the second shift would be able to do its share.

By the end of the day, 240 backpacks were ready to go, stuffed with supplies to make any child ready for school.

"I really like helping people," said MacKinsey. "I like doing this for other kids."

To learn more, e-mail packswithlove@yahoo.com.

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