We, Team 4 Love, the 9th class of Next Level Trainings’ Vision and Impact Program in Philadelphia, were given the opportunity to create an impactful community service project as a part of our curriculum. We chose to support Operation Backpack, a non-profit organization that stands for children facing food insecurity and chronic hunger.

 In Pennsylvania, 1,534,710 people are food insecure - and of them 437,340 are children. Over 26,000 children and youth that are registered in public school are homeless.

Since 2011, Operation Backpack  has provided meals, snacks, and water bottles to students who would otherwise go hungry over the weekend. Not only do these children endure the physical hardships associated with hunger, but they also experience a lack of focus in school, fatigue, and struggles with self-esteem.

With the intention of creating love, freedom, and connection in our community, our team joined forces with Operation Backpack and their mission to feed as many hungry and homeless children as possible. As our team rallied together and deepened our connected to this organization, our shared vision became stronger and stronger. Operation Backpack’s mission quickly became our mission, and our mutual commitment to eradicate childhood hunger became the source of our inspiration.

With a team of 26 individuals we boldly declared to raise $50,000 in 23 days for Operation Backpack. We reached out to large and small corporations, local businesses, family, and friends to support this cause. Our campaign reached across the world, receiving donations from as far as California and Italy. Despite the physical distance between our team, we continued to push until the very last second of our campaign. 

Our team also hosted multiple events including food drives, competitions, and a happy hour fundraiser in NYC and Pottstown area. At these events, we provided music, activities, games, and dancing for members of the local communities. We served approximately 200 community members and neighbors.Within only ten days, our team met our fundraising goal of $50,000.

We continued to strive and stand for the children, finishing with a grand total of $90,684. In addition to raising funds for Operation Backpack, our team spent over 48 volunteer hours working on this project, sourced over 3,400 tangible goods, and transformed the working space at Operation Backpack by donating 6 shelving units for organization, 6 large carts donated for transportation within the facility, as well as construction improvements with 4x8 drywall patches to restore the space to excellence. Our team also sourced a $100 ACE Hardware gift card, as well as grocery store gift cards, to ensure the future needs of Operation Backpack’s facility will be met.

“When we were contacted by Next Level Trainings leadership team I was over the moon that they thought of us,” said Lisa Heverly, Executive Director of Operation Backpack. “Their commitment, passion, and generosity to help us is contagious. I am honored to have been blessed with their unanticipated and powerful support!”

We are in awe of our results, and are ecstatic with the impact we have made in such a short period of time. It is truly powerful what can happen when a team comes together to create a vision to change the world.

 From the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank everyone who contributed to our campaign and supported us along the way. Thank you to Next Level Trainings’ Leadership, coaches, and graduates, and the many donors from all areas in our lives - friends, family, and even strangers! We are truly grateful for the lessons we have learned, connections we have made, and the impact that resulted from both. We can say for certain that we will carry this experience with us for the rest of our lives.