Fifty Backpacks

Last year I wanted to start a non-profit. The expense and the fact that our project did not generate enough interest to solicit large corporations was a challenge. So we had to take another route.

The Ciriza/Driscoll Project

The Ciriza/Driscoll project was established to introduce our grandchildren to becoming better servants and to understand the needs of others. My Catholic roots go deep into the arteries of the Church’s genesis. Catholic charities were in existence long before any other groups. Catholics have always served the poor, taken care of the widows and orphans,  ministered to the prisoners. Our cause, though small in comparison to what our Church does, is the root of my faith and why I say yes to these projects.

First Pray

When I prayed about this project I had no idea how or when God would provide. As with many of my other endeavors, the Lord is ever present by putting the same idea in the hearts of those called to come alongside this project.  When I stated, “We’re preparing 50 backpacks,” the Holy Spirit opened the doors. I had a clear idea of who was going to help. I also knew how much the Lord had put on their hearts to give.

The Donors

Thank you, Sonja and Russ, for your kind donation; it was well received. When I asked our son Mikos for a donation I told him, “God has already given me an amount.” His reply was, “Well, He hasn’t given me one yet.” Mikos and Jenny came through with the exact amount that the Lord showed me. It was the same for my friend Jane; she, too, gave the amount that the Lord had revealed to me. Both Mikos and Jane gave double of what they donated last year. With this money I quickly ordered the backpacks.


Marianela is one of my dearest friends; she has been part of my Bible study group for over 18 years. She never hesitates when it comes to helping me out with other ministries. I had casually mentioned to her about the backpacks and she said that she would be happy to help. I had been praying for her because she was making funeral arrangements because her father had just died.

I had no idea that the school supplies were hit with inflation, and the cost was almost double the price I paid last year. There were a few items that remained the same but, for the most part, the cost was through the roof. I did my best to compare prices with Walmart, Staples, Target, and Amazon. The big ticket items I ordered  from Amazon. For certain items, Walmart was slightly higher than Staples, and Target may have had good prices but their stock was low. Maddie and I made a trip to Walmart to purchase the bulk items. I was charging everything on my credit card. When I started to worry, the Lord reassured me that all would be taken care of. When I obsessed about it, I’d ask God, “How?” I was always encouraged to trust in Him. When the project belongs to the Lord, He will take care of it. So when I received the call from Marianela, I was not surprised with her obedience to the Lord;  she graciously asked me to give her the bill. The following week, despite her grief, she dropped off a check. She was an angel sent from heaven.

Two Days’ Work

By this time the supplies had taken over our entry way and dining room, so Mike wanted the project finished to clear up space. Finally all four of our grandkids were available. After a few hours we were finished! I decided to give ten backpacks to five different schools. Last year I gave the entire project to a Title One school, but this year, after praying, I decided to give to the schools that allow Release Time Christian Education, which includes some Title One (low-income families) schools. I worked with this organization for 12 years because they bring Bible Studies to public schools. Not all schools allow this program, so we delivered to the schools where I taught Bible study. Fletcher, California, and Palmyra Elementary schools all received 10 backpacks. After Mike loaded the car we discovered that out of the 48 purchased backpacks we were shorted two. We had the supplies for 50, so I had to purchase an additional six  backpacks. Jordan Elementary and a small group of First Holy Communion students from St. Norbert received the remaining 20 backpacks.

Maddie was the project manager while Will and Luke worked as a team to stuff all the supplies. Jacob managed quality control and filled the last ten backpacks on his own. The bonding was beautiful and these four will always remember these dog days of summer when they helped others in need.

On the drive to one of the schools Lucas shared the deal breaker for his future wife. “She can’t be a Satanist or vape or smoke.” I breathed a sign of relief, and then we all laughed. With all three boys in the back seat, the complaining never stopped! Will couldn’t breathe, Lucas was invading Jacob’s space and Maddie was cutting through streets following the navigation, while trying to find a suitable sound track to her liking. We drove the Tesla because the trunk is much bigger than the Prius. We have names for our cars, so Jonah stayed behind while Josiah took on the workload.

On the outside pocket of the backpacks, the students will find a message which reads: “May you have a blessed and productive school year! You are loved, signed, The Ciriza/Driscoll Project.”

My Prayer

Lord, our grandchildren are a gift from You. May we always be available to teach them to love. I pray for the future of Maddie, Will, Lucas and Jacob. Please protect them and keep them safe. When they stray, bring them back into Your sheepfold. Lord, I pray for their protection from all the unnecessary indoctrination that is attempting to ruin our children. Amen.

The Ciriza/Driscoll Project

Included in each backpack:

1– 1 1/2 inch Binder

1– Pack of college-ruled paper

3– Spiral Notebooks

1 – Set of 8 Dividers

1– Pencil pouch

3– Bic pens

6–Ticonderoga Pencils

2– Glue sticks

1–Pencil sharpener

2– Erasers

2–Sharpy Highlighter

1–Pack of 24 Crayola Crayons

1– 12” Ruler

1– Package of Colored Pencils






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