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Backpack Buddies help Mohave Valley students start on the right foot

August 9, 2018

MOHAVE VALLEY — Mason Tsosie didn’t want to take off his new Phoenix Suns ballcap Wednesday.

Which was fine, because he could wear it while displaying the other items he received at the BHHS Legacy Foundation’s Backpack Buddies event.

Mason’s mother, Sara Barone, ticked the goodies off:

“Notebooks, a book, a teddy bear, toothbrushes, a water bottle — his favorite is the blue ruler.”

Nancy Mongeau of the Legacy Foundation said the event is about putting the children on equal footing with their more fortunate peers.

“Every kid should start the first day of school ready,” she said. “They should feel like every other kid, with a new uniform, new shoes and a backpack filled with supplies.”

Each child received a school T-shirt, a reusable water bottle, underwear, a stuffed animal and other items.

Barone was pleased with the way the event was run; each child was matched with his or her own volunteer shopper, and had a choice in several areas, she said.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Barone said. “It helps out a lot.”

Backpack Buddies, run by the Mohave Valley Clothe-A-Child Foundation, is in the seventh year of its current iteration. Last week’s phase in Bullhead City drew about 200 volunteers, and Wednesday’s wrap-up, focused on children in Head Start, their siblings at Vista Colorado and Bennett elementary schools and students with special needs, boasted more than 100, Mongeau said.

“I could not do this without the hundreds of people that are behind me,” she said.

Volunteers included local firefighters, Mohave High School students, Mohave Community College dental hygiene students and teams from Mohave Valley United Methodist Church and News West Publishing.

Western Arizona Regional Medical Center, Hunter’s Grill and Vito’s Pizza provided refreshments for the volunteers.

“It’s definitely a village,” Mongeau said.

The two phases combined should serve about 1,500 local children, Mongeau said.

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