For the past 20 years, CUTR has participated in “Backpacks for Healthy Families Pasco” by providing backpacks and school supplies to children in need. This year, CUTR adopted 18 children to help into the new school year.

Melissa De Leon, research support specialist at CUTR, heads the efforts in August and CUTR’s Holiday Drive, as well.

What does Backpacks for Healthy Families Pasco mean to you?

I’m a humanitarian at heart, as I’m sure many CUTRites are!  When I started working at CUTR in July 2002, I was excited to learn that Patricia Ball started the “Backpacks for School” and “Be a Santa” for CUTR in 1999. I believe that we all can make a difference in someone else’s life. These families are truly in need.

One of the aspects I love about Healthy Families Pasco/Pasco Kids First is that they have programs for these families to assist in getting them to a better place. The program is designed for Resource Moms/Dads to work with the families, teaching the parents essential life and parenting skills, so they can become better parents and providers for their kids.

During the holidays, we ask the Resource Moms to ask the kids and/or parents what the child would want or like. When you see parents requesting diapers and warm clothes for their children or educational toys because the children have learning disabilities/delays or parents requesting towels/silverware since they only have two towels and four forks for six people…it pulls on my heartstrings. I am honored to be able to coordinate these two activities.  However, these efforts are ONLY successful because of CUTR and its staff!  Their generosity and assistance with helping someone they’ve never even met are humbling!


What are the benefits to the children receiving these backpacks? 

Healthy Families/Pasco Kids First  mission is: “to promote child well-being and prevent the abuse and neglect of our nation’s children through home visiting services.”

I’m sure there is some angst for many children at the start of a new school year. Perhaps, more so for those kids who might not be able to start school with the “latest and greatest.”  Getting a new backpack and new supplies to get them started in the right direction is meaningful. Resource Moms often tell me how excited the kids are when they receive their new backpacks. It does take a village. These children are grateful for the little things.

 How can others help?

We coordinate two activities a year: “Be a Santa” and “Backpacks for School.” You can help with donations through CUTR or you can assist Pasco Kids throughout the year! To learn more, please visit


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