At Delbarton, our students and their families are called to serve the community around them. Seventh grader, Cole Dustin ’28 and his family are called to serve as every year, they work to collect backpacks and fill them for kids in need for Operation Backpack.
Over the years, Cole and his family got their community in Long Beach Island involved in their efforts to distribute more backpacks. When he joined the Junior Sailing program at the Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club (LEYHC), Cole felt it was important for him and his fellow junior sailors to have a service element included in their Program so while they worked together sailing, they could also work together to help a good cause. In the Spring of 2021, Cole created a PowerPoint outlining his plans for a backpack drive as he presented this service idea to the three Commodores of LEYHC. His idea was enthusiastically approved as they paired up with the LEHYC’s Social Impact Committee and reached out to local LBI schools to help children in need within the community.
After a month of fundraising, they hosted their very first Lights, Camera, Backpacks! event with the LEYHC Junior Sailors to pack backpacks and enjoy a summer movie night on the dock. By taking this initiative, Cole and the Dustin family collected and distributed 170 backpacks last summer.
This year, they wanted to focus on expanding their donation reach while reducing the carbon footprint it takes to distribute these backpacks. To execute these goals, they partnered with a local pharmacy in LBI called Kapler's Pharmacy who played a big role in helping to collect supplies for this year's drive. Because of this great partnership, the Dustin family was able to create their own non-profit called Got Y’er Back which allows them to buy all supplies needed at a tax-free cost. This means every dollar they raise goes into gathering more backpacks and supplies to fill them with.
Earlier this summer on August 9, the Dustin family held their second annual event where 250 backpacks were donated; perfect timing for back-to-school season! Their next goal is to have more families involved as they start their fundraising now in order to go above and beyond the 250 backpacks they donated this summer.
The Delbarton community salutes Cole and his family for their initiative in helping make a difference in their community and we look forward to seeing the turnout from next year’s backpack drive. Click here for the fundraising link and to see more information on their mission to give back.