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In 2011, Phyllis Ditro lost her battle with emphysema and MS. After her passing, her son Rob learned that for years, Phyllis was secretly donating several backpacks to Our Lady of Lourdes School in her hometown of Dunedin, Florida. She would tell the staff,

“These are for the kids” with no explanation. Subsequently, the staff nicknamed her The Backpack Lady. Just before Phyllis’s service, Rob shared her story on Facebook and at her funeral, 66 backpacks appeared around her coffin. Hence, The Backpack Lady Project was born!

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Since that time, Rob Ditro (Founder) has continued to collect backpacks and school supplies for elementary schools. He holds several community backpack stuffing parties just before the start of school and delivers roughly 12 backpacks full of supplies to over 90 Elementary schools in Pinellas County. This huge task of delivering to so many schools could not be done without the volunteers we affectionately call The Backpack Angels. The Backpack Lady Project has collected over 12,000 backpacks and countless school supplies to date. Each year the goal is to collect one more backpack than the year before. Every year, this goal has not only been achieved, but downright crushed!

The Backpack Lady Project is growing each year and this 2023/2024 school year we will be expanding deliveries to Pasco County elementary schools! We have multiple fundraisers throughout the year to achieve our goals along with tremendous support from numerous businesses and organizations in the community who love our mission and have a desire to help elementary school kids.

Therefore, when you are looking for a charitable cause, we kindly ask you to consider The Backpack Lady Project.

As Phyllis Ditro would say, “These are for the kids.”
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