The mission of keeping the memory of a young Bullard child who passed away in a drowning accident in 2012 alive is the foundation of the third annual Backpacks 4 Colton campaign.
Donations of school supplies for the 2017-2018 school year are currently being accepted for the cause, in memory of Colton Denney, who died after drowning in the family swimming pool Memorial Day Weekend 2012.
“I started this backpack donation fundraiser last year in Colton’s memory,” said Lindsey Denney, Colton’s mother and organizer for the fundraiser. “Colton would be starting first grade this year. I feel it is a way to help the less fortunate with needed supplies while honoring the memory of my son. I just want to find a way for his memory to live on, and I could not think of a better way than by helping others.”
During the 2016 Backpacks 4 Colton drive, a total of 24 backpacks were filled with various school supplies specifically for first grade classes at Bullard Primary School, the same class level young Colton would have attended.
This year, Backpacks 4 Colton has expanded its reach in order to increase the impact of the cause. Not only will she collect for Colton’s now second grade class at BPS, Denney’s goal is now to gather school supplies benefiting those who need them most at all Bullard Independent School District campuses, as well as Dr. Bryan C. Jack Elementary School in Tyler, where 10-year-old Kayla Gomez-Orozco, of Tyler, who was kidnapped and found dead last November in Bullard, attended school.
“Thanks to last year’s drive exceeding my expectations, I was able to make it bigger this year by reaching out to every Bullard ISD campus,” said Denney. “I recently emailed all the principals to get their school supplies list for the year. I also chose to include Jack Elementary this year because that’s where Kayla Gomez attended. With that incident still being fresh on the minds and hearts of the community, Colton’s case feels very connected to Kayla’s, in that a young child tragically died and that this fundraiser is a great way to share their memory. We want to keep their memories alive.”
In terms of donations for the campaign, Denney said that while donating school supplies is greatly appreciated, she has learned throughout the past events that monetary donations help to power the drive.
“People can still donate school supplies, but we also will take monetary donations, as well,” said Denney. “With the money that’s donated, I have an account set up. I find out what other supplies are needed to fulfill the goal and then I go myself to get what I know is needed.”
In addition to the Backpacks 4 Colton school supply drive, there will be a new way to give back to the campaign this year.
Chuy’s in Tyler, located at 5935 S. Broadway Ave., will be holding an all day fundraising event to benefit Backpacks 4 Colton on Monday, Aug. 14. Those attending the event can present a flyer for the fundraiser or mention the fundraiser as they pay their checks, allowing Backpacks 4 Colton to receive a total of 15 percent of total food purchases.
“I contacted Chuy’s and spoke to the general manager about possibly having an event to help us raise more funds for the project this year,” said Denney. “It’s pretty amazing to have a new way to support this cause that is near and dear to my heart.”
If school supplies donated to Backpacks 4 Colton exceed the demand, Denney said the remaining supplies will still be donated to the schools in order to fulfill the need of classes throughout the school year.
According to Denney, the project serves to keep the memory of her son alive, not only in her life, but in the lives of those who never met him.
“I can honestly say that my biggest fear as Colton’s mother is that he will be forgotten,” said Denney. “I try to keep his memory alive in positive ways such as this backpack fundraiser. It is an honor to be Colton’s mother. It makes me so proud to know that his short life touched so many people and continues to do so. Losing him is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever faced. If I can turn any aspect of this loss into something positive, that is what I strive for. Colton lives through me now.”
In order to inform the recipients of the backpacks and school supplies about Colton’s life and legacy, Denney includes a special gift in each one.
“In each of the backpacks we donate,” said Denney, “we sew a patch in with his name and put a picture of him with a small biography. We just want to touch and bless others through him.”
All donations for the third annual Backpacks 4 Colton school supplies drive are due on Thursday, Aug. 10.
To donate to Backpacks for Colton, email Denney at email@example.com, donate via PayPal at firstname.lastname@example.org, call (903) 530-7185, or stop by Campbell Custom Homes at 133 E. Main St. in Bullard.