Prudential Employees Have Taken On 'Backpack Challenge' For 15 Years

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – More than 400 kids in Newark will head back to school this year with a new backpack and the supplies they need, thanks to an annual effort from Prudential Financial.

As WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reported, employees of the Newark-based again rose to the Annual Backpack Challenge.

“I got Dora the Explorer, you could get Hello Kitty. I mean, they just have all this stuff that I didn’t even know was out there,” David De Flavio, head of Prudential’s Community Engagement Department told Putney.

For 15 years, Prudential has challenged their workers to buy and fill backpacks for kids in need ahead of the start of the school year.

The stocked backpacks will be distributed to children in foster care and in local shelters through Wynona’s House, a center for at-risk youth.

“They are not only in the foster care system but they are also, some of them physically and sexually abused,” said De Flavio.

De Flavio said the project helps employees increase their awareness of those in need in their own community, in addition to offering much-needed assistance.

“It really brings a lot of hope into these kids’ lives, even something as small as a backpack,” said De Flavio. “It just gives them a little bit of love, just to let them know, ‘hey, there are people out here who do care about you.'”

The backpack drive has become a global effort for Prudential. Since the Backpack Challenge began in 1999, company employees have donated more than 40,000 backpacks filled with school supplies.

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