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Seniors Start Year With Act of Charity, Donating Dozens of Backpacks

During the first few days of school, many Norfolk Academy seniors could be seen carrying backpacks featuring SpongeBob SquarePants and other characters that appeal to young children.

This wasn’t a fashion statement. The Class of 2020 collected the backpacks, and are donating them to public school boys and girls who need new ones.

As of Monday, August 26, the students had gathered about 70 backpacks, said seniors Avery Munn and Virginia Chandler. The group hopes to deliver them this week.

Munn and Chandler volunteer at Tidewater Park Elementary, a public school on East Brambleton Avenue in Norfolk. As part of Norfolk Academy’s Literacy Fellows Program, they spend time with youngsters after school, helping with homework and other academic assignments.

Last school year, 100% of Tidewater Park students were eligible for a federal free lunch program, according to state figures. Some of the children bring backpacks that aren’t in great shape, Munn and Chandler said. Others don’t own backpacks.

“They’re going to be really excited,” Munn said.

Last year’s senior class led a similar effort. This year’s group liked the idea and decided to follow suit. Word spread through a group text, with several dozen students donating.

Gracie Dougherty said she wanted to help for such a good cause. She isn’t surprised so many of her fellow seniors felt the same way.

“Our school is very philanthropic,” Dougherty said.

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