Submitted by Homeless Backpacks
Jayme McCann, of BSN Sports, watched as family and friends struggled to cope with the abrupt closures of the local schools followed by a Shelter In Place order that has caused many of the small businesses in this area to close. Feeling helpless in this time of crisis, Jayme came up with an idea to show support for students whose school year and spring sports seasons have come to screaming halt and a way to give back to the community – all at the same time.
BSN Sports came up with an idea and, in a matter of days, worked with high schools throughout the South Sound area to open up online shops for each with School Spirit “STRONG” Wear emphasizing each school’s mascot and “Strong.”
Kennedy McCann, Jayme’s oldest daughter and a school teacher, hit the social media platforms early Friday, promoting the online stores through posts stating, “For every shirt (or hoodie, mug, etc.) bought, $6 will go to Homeless Backpacks! This organization holds a huge spot in the McCann Family’s heart. Homeless Backpacks is committed to ending homelessness one STUDENT at a time! These purchases will buy food for local school children during this incredibly tough time! Rally the community and be #OlympiaStrong”
Jayme McCann has been a staple in this community when it comes to school and team sports. Jayme has been one of the key providers for team sports uniforms and Spirit Wear for over 30 years to over 11 high schools in the area.
Currently he has online “STRONG” stores set up for Olympia High School, Capital, Yelm, Adna, Tumwater, Black Hills, and Rochester and is working diligently to get the North Thurston Public School sites up for each high school within the next couple of days. All the while promoting that for every item sold from any of the local high school “Strong” online stores, $6 go directly to fund Homeless Backpacks of Thurston County.
“Before the world changed due to COVID – 19, Homeless Backpacks was a very well oiled machine,” says Kelly Wilson, Founding Member and Board Chair of Homeless Backpacks in Olympia. “We got our 501(C)3 in April of 2006 and have been providing weekend food to homeless students in Thurston County every week of the school year ever since. As of the last week of school, we were distributing 600 bags of food per week. These students receive free breakfast and lunch during the school week and often have little or no access to food on the weekends. Our school contacts, shopping team, shopping resources, delivery team and bagging teams were all on point and for the most part working without even a hiccup. Our funding stayed steady and we rarely felt that running out of funds was likely. We worked hard to raise funds and got wonderful community support, and it always seemed to work.”
She adds, “In the face of COVID-19, everything we knew and counted on has gone away or changed entirely. The kids are not in school and that was our access to providing them with food. Food is scarce. Stores are out of what we need, and if they have it they are often limiting quantities. The foods that are available are a more expensive version of what we normally purchase. Each school district is providing grab and go lunches each week day at different sites; mostly the elementary schools. They are just handing a lunch to anyone 18 and under who shows up. The Homeless Backpacks bags are available on Fridays at each of these sites so that the kids who need the weekend food still have an opportunity to receive it. Because it is impossible to track down the kids who previously received our bags of food and because Homeless Backpacks doesn’t want any child hungry over the weekends, we are now distributing about 1000 bags of food per week. Our bags previously cost around $8 each but with higher prices on each item, that is around $9 per bag. So, we are spending a lot more money than what we had planned for and budgeted for.”
Online Store link samples for Olympia High School and Capital High School: