Harrisburg freshman organizes backpack giveaway for those in need

Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 4:50 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Freshmen at Harrisburg High School are giving back this holiday season.

Over the last two weeks, those students have been gathering hygiene supplies and warm clothes to put in backpacks. Those backpacks are going to people in need around the Sioux Falls metro area.

The Harrisburg freshmen class collected supplies to fill about 170 backpacks, far exceeding the original goal they set of 50.

Emily Huggins, a 9th-grade student from Harrisburg High School, was the mastermind behind this project.

“I knew I wanted to do something this winter because I knew this winter was going to be really cold, and I saw some people sitting on the street and I just knew that they needed help,” Huggins said.

She, along with the freshmen principal, Brad Seamer, and a little help from Mr. Peterson, a social studies teacher, hatched the plan to make it a friendly competition at the school, and the result speaks for itself.

“I walked in and I was like, ‘Oh wow, there’s a lot of backpacks here. Mr. Seamer, how many are there?,’ and he goes 170, and I think my jaw dropped, I was speechless,” Huggins said.

Each backpack contains a blanket, stocking cap, gloves, socks, toothpaste, a toothbrush, and deodorant.

“It’s really heartfelt, it really means a lot to me and teachers here at HHS, and it’s just really great to see kids give back and want to help their communities,” Mr. Peterson said.

To distribute what has been raised, Emily has partnered with Joey Clark, who runs a program called Street Corner Revival.

“It’s a non-affiliated, group of different people, who want to just go out and see the betterment of our community by helping out people in need,” Clark said.

Clark, a former custodian at the high school, began the initiative two years ago.

He says working with Emily has been a blessing.

“She has the same vision that I have,” Clark said. “There are people in need, there are people that need that help, and if she can do it by just filling up a backpack and I can hand these backpacks out on her behalf, it’s a match made in Heaven.”

Clark will deliver the care packages in his bus, which he uses to give rides and assist folks in various ways.

“It’s a perfect Christmas gift for all those that are in need,” Clark said. “It’s going to be amazing.”

Emily hopes her efforts can make a big impact.

“It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do and this is something that’s going to really help people, I feel, and I’m just really excited to be part of it,” Huggins said.

Clark says his plan is to get all 170 backpacks handed out by Christmas.

As for the competition, the freshmen team that filled the most backpacks will get a pizza party later this school year.

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