Like every other day, Steve Davies and his team popped on their hi-vis in the morning ready for the day ahead. However, today they wouldn’t be working on a Transmission project, they would be lending a hand in the warehouse for one of the Employee Foundation’s charities, Backpacks 4 SA Kids. Steve had heard that as part of Enerven’s annual leave allowance, there is one day allocated for charity work. He encouraged his entire team to put that day to good use and booked a session with Backpacks 4 SA Kids to help with odd jobs and install a laundry facility.
Backpacks 4 SA Kids is a charity organisation that started from very small but ambitious beginnings. Rachael and her young family decided they wanted to do something to help children who have been displaced from their homes. They started putting together items for children who had found themselves in this situation. These children are usually taken quite suddenly from their homes and have no possessions or items to comfort them in what is already an extremely stressful situation. Soon, friends and families also started to collect items to donate, and so Backpacks 4 SA Kids was created. From this initial idea, Backpacks 4 SA Kids has grown from a few packs, organised by founder Rachael in her carport, to an organisation that assists over 3,000 South Australian kids every year and is still growing.
The backpacks are put together for children aged 0-16 and contain essential items such as age appropriate emergency clothing, toiletries, like a toothbrush and comb, and other necessary supplies, like bottles, nappies, books and a cuddle toy. The backpacks are bright and colourful and provide a distraction to help reduce some of the stress and anxiety of their changing environment. They provide reassurance and comfort and are something children can call their own in a time when they are without any of their own personal belongings.
Backpacks waiting to be filled Chloe holding up the finished product
Backpacks 4 SA Kids hosts several packing sessions throughout the year, where groups can put together the backpacks that will go to the kids who need them. Their warehouse also requires a lot of cleaning, sorting and organising as the turnover of stock and donations for the backpacks is constant. Given Steve’s team are used to getting their hands dirty, a cleaning and organising session was right up their alley.
Backpacks 4 SA Kids had recently received a large donation of clothes from Big W and needed to know what was inside the boxes, so they could work out the items that could be included in their backpacks and the items that could be donated to another charity if they weren’t suitable. Naturally, a fashion parade ensued while the boxes were sorted and stacked on shelves. The guys hung an item from the boxes on the front of each stack so that the Backpacks team could easily identify what they could find in the boxes behind, and also determine which boxes could be collected by another charity. A task that seems simple, but was a huge help for Rachael and her team.
Another reason this visit came about was because the Employee Foundation team had discovered that a lot of the clothing donations the charity receives are a bit old or have been sitting around for some time, so aren’t fit for someone to wear right away. Steve had heard that Rachael and her team had been taking these clothes home and washing and drying them in their own laundry so that they could be used in the packs. The dedication shown by Rachael and her team to provide the best possible clothing for these kids is inspiring, but Steve knew her operation would be much more productive if they could wash and dry the items from the warehouse. Steve had made it his mission to arrange a washing machine and dryer to be donated and even found a plumber and electrician to donate their time to help with the installation of the laundry. A quick test run of the equipment over lunch showed it all to be in working order, and Rachael and her team were thrilled with the result.
Laundry station in action
The last item of the day was to create a wall for the Backpacks team to display the generous donations they had received that allows them to continue their important work.
How the cheques used to be displayed
The finished product
Rachael said she was so pleased with the Enerven team and their efforts. She said a lot of groups that come out need a lot of instruction and guidance on what to do, where Steve’s team just got stuck in and kept the momentum going throughout the day. No one appreciates the help received during these sessions more than Rachael, who says she couldn’t do it without them.
If you would like to find out more about Backpacks 4 SA Kids, to make a donation, or to organise your own session, please visit their website: www.backpacks4sakids.org