Katie Emanuel purchasing care package items in Dominican Republic, October 2017. Courtesy photo

Katie Emanuel purchasing care package items in Dominican Republic, October 2017. Courtesy photo

Local volunteer’s backpack project helps children in Dominican Republic

  • Friday, July 20, 2018 1:30am
  • Life

By Emmy Sandstedt, For the Mirror

Despite their own troubles, the women in a Dominican Republic prison only wish for better lives for their children.

Katie Emanuel and the women’s group she leads learned this when they began putting together care packages for these women after a friend told them about the women’s lack of basic hygiene supplies.

“There’s power in numbers and power in doing what you can,” Emanuel said. This is evident through the work of her group, Coffee with Katie, at Brooklake Church in Federal Way. Emanuel’s goal is to get women out doing work and helping others.

True to this goal, Emanuel has used the platform of the group to help women and children in the Dominican Republic.

Lidia Soriano was the friend responsible for bringing the issue to Emanuel’s attention. She works with a prison in Santiago, Dominican Republic, and teaches the women necessary skills to find jobs upon their release.

“The women in the prison down there do not have any kind of feminine supplies, any kind of daily grooming supplies, none of that is provided for them,” Emanuel said. “Basically they go in with the clothes on their back.”

Emanuel and her group raised $2,000 to purchase daily supplies for these women. Each of the 71 women received care packages that would last at least a month.

Emanuel delivered the items personally and spent the day getting to know the women. Despite the language barrier, she felt able to connect with them.

“Love in any language is still love,” she wrote in her fundraising letter. “Hugs do not need words, only the compassion that is behind them.”

Hoping to continue her mission, she asked what else she could do for these women, and they all agreed on one thing. More than anything else, they wanted their children to get an education.

“That was super selfless of them,” Emanuel said. “They’re in this prison with nothing, and they didn’t ask for anything else for themselves.”

School supplies are required for children to attend school in the Dominican Republic, and the government does not provide them. The women in the Santiago prison cannot earn money for school supplies, so their children are not able to attend.

Emanuel has followed through with this request and is raising money to put together backpacks full of school supplies.

This project, called Destiny Backpacks, aims to give each child the opportunity for a better future. Each backpack costs $40 and will send a child to school for a year.

Hoping to raise enough money for each child to attend, Emanuel has set a goal of 200 backpacks, totalling $8,000. She has been working to achieve this since her trip last October, and hopes to raise the final amount by July 31, in time to purchase items for the next school year.

To avoid shipping costs, Emanuel seeks donations of money rather than items. However, people are encouraged to help in any way they can. Recently, a quilt was donated and will be raffled off July 28 in support of Destiny Backpacks.

To learn more, email bringyourcupgetfilledup@gmail.com, or visit instagram.com/coffeewithkatieinternational or facebook.com/bringyourcupgetfilledup. To donate to Destiny Backpacks, visit gofundme.com/destinybackpacks or paypal.me/coffeewithkatie.

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