POTTSTOWN — Leaders of a local non-profit had trouble holding back their smiles Thursday as they received a generous gift.
Operation Backpack founder and executive director Lisa Heverly tried her best to hold back tears as she and the rest of the nonprofit team were presented with a check for $87, 327 from Next Level Trainings.
"We're going to be meeting and discussing this a little bit more. My heart is thinking about the future. We might need to hire someone, there's potential for other districts for more students that we can serve. And of course there's buying food. We purchase about $40,000 plus worth of food a year. This is a huge, huge help," said Heverly as she held back tears.
According to its website, Next Level Trainings is a "a transformational training organization that supports people in unlocking their power, passion and purpose." The group made it their mission to raise $50,000 for Operation Backpack in just 21 days.
"We are in the 9th series of the Vision Impact Program. We have a community service project we call a CSP and we have 21 days to raise money for Operation Backpack. We all voted for this non-profit organization and we are at over $80,000 currently," said Kimberly Monks of Next Level Trainings.
Monks explained that Next Level Trainings has a three part series that begins with a three day workshop aimed at learning about who you are and what your strengths are. "Breakthrough" is another part of the program. It is a four-day workshop to learn about breaking through barriers and things that hold individuals back. The third part of the series is the VIP vision impact program.
The fundraising is part of the organization's Vision Impact Program.
As of Friday, Next Level Trainings raised $90,684 for Operation Backpack.
"It's been an extraordinary experience and this just goes to show how when people come together you can create the positive change in the world. This is just a touch of it and there's so much more to come," said Tonianne Napolitano of Next Level Trainings. "Anything in life that has the intention with love has so much power. It's been an honor and we're so grateful to be a part of this."
Operation Backpack is a local non-profit, started in 2011, that works to address hunger problems in the community. Operation Backpack provides food to students in the local community who would go without food over the weekend.
The nonprofit serves alongside individuals and organizations to collect food and materials. Volunteers pack these items into backpacks every Wednesday evening, which are sent out to qualifying students who discretely pick up the backpacks each Friday and return them on Monday. The process begins again for the next weekend.
The Backpacks contain enough food for dinner Friday night, breakfast, lunch, and dinner Saturday and Sunday along with some snacks and water. All items are already made and no cooking is required.
Currently there are 391 students in the program and the group has sent out over 6,900 backpacks in six school districts and served 44 schools all-together.
The non-profit has had a wave of support recently, not just from Next Level Trainings.
The Pottsgrove Middle School Student Coalition recently held a fundraiser at HillTop Restaurant to support Operation Backpack. The Student Coalition Club is in its second year of existence and is organized by teacher, Amanda Lawless and Student Resource Officer, Andrew Milliard. The group focuses on concerns among 6th, 7th and 8th-grade students to aid in relationship building and to build a better learning environment.
Additionally, state Sen. Katie Muth is working with the non-profit to collect non-perishable food and drink. Those seeking to donate non-perishable food and drinks can bring donations to the senator’s district office at 338 Main Street in Royersford.
Donations are currently being accepted and will continue to be accepted until May 29.