Kids Backing Kids, a Wellesley nonprofit, is seeking donations for the holiday season to benefit families in Wellesley, Newton, and the surrounding communities. They hope to provide 300 gifts to children this year, having provided over 12,000 gifts in the past three.
“We really want to engage our community,” said Grace Rodrigue, co-founder and secretary of the organization. “My two younger sisters, who are Wellesley High students, started a non-profit in 2020 with the help of our dad, just before COVID.”
It was initially intended to help purchase school supplies, but they quickly realized the needs of area families were more than just that.
That included non-school aged children: “we started a diaper drive – students didn’t need them for school, but we realized how expensive they are.”
They note on their website that diapers for just one child can be a hundred dollars a month, which combined with the high income.
They don’t only want to raise money.
“We want to raise awareness of these social issues, particularly in the next generation,” said Rodrigue.
Having kids involved is a key part of their mission. These may seem like communities where everyone is doing well, but there are in fact families in public housing, families receiving Section 8 vouchers, and families struggling in the private housing market. The wait time for an affordable housing unit in Newton is over a decade because of how many people are in need. The back-to-school drive also helps out people in Needham as well as Dorchester, the latter of which has many high-poverty neighborhoods.
They have been working with the Newton Public Schools for several years and hope to be able to provide gifts to 75 to 100 Newton schoolchildren this year. They also don’t want people to just write a check. “We always have a volunteer interactive part,” said Rodrigue. After holiday gifts have been purchased, they host a festive gift-wrapping event for people to come together and provide a personal touch to presents.
If you are interested in helping with their holiday gift drive, you can sign up to sponsor a specific child by filling out their sponsorship form online, and you will then be given the child’s wishlist.
If you don’t have time to shop, you can also donate online or by mail to Kids Backing Kids, P.O. Box 81047, Wellesley, MA 02481.
If your business or organization might be interested in being a community sponsor, you can learn more about that on the Kids Backing Kids website, too.
The president of Kids Backing Kids, Jim Rodrigue, is a Harvard Medical School professor who works on reducing racial and income-based disparities in organ transplantation and is also a Wellesley Town Meeting member.