Brett D'Alessandro is a Corporal in the United States Marine Corps and a resident of Verona, NJ. After returning from active duty in Afghanistan and while working at his unit in Providence Rhode Island, Brett saw a homeless man who held a sign indicating that he was a Vietnam veteran. That evening, Brett filled one of his own backpacks from his tour with some clothing and socks and gave it to the man the next morning. Some time later he saw a small child walking alongside the same man, wearing the backpack proudly.
"I stopped to say hello and the homeless man explained to me that his wife had become very sick and the warming layers were helping her tremendously. It was in this moment that I knew I wanted to help others get back on their feet and give them a second chance at life.”, Brett recounts. And so Backpacks for Life was born.
Supported by Co-Founders Alexa Modero and Kevin Clarke, the organization secures backpacks through donations and packs them with seasonal materials including toiletries, clothing, a notebook & pen, as well as resource pamphlets (where to find housing, insurance, jobs, etc.). Their mission is to provide homeless veterans with the basic life essentials that they cannot provide for themselves. With each backpack, they hope to not only provide homeless veterans with the things they need for daily living but also, give them hope and resources for the future.
Backpacks for Life is spreading their mission in the community. Since their launch in September, they've participated in Operation Stand Down's 'Stand Down Weekend' where they distributed 400 packs to veterans in need, hosted a Bocce Tournament raising $3,000 towards their mission, and packed backpacks with a troop of eager Brownies in New Jersey. Each and every pack distributed is distinct as it is marked with the Backpacks for Life patch, designed by Joanna Maher of Look North Inc. along with the logo, website, and branded identity materials.
Co-founder Alexa Modero reflects on her journey thus far. "This experience of creating a nonprofit organization makes me realize everyone has the ability to leave this world better than how we found it. By supporting veterans who have fought for my freedom, I feel that this is my way of giving back to them. Its a truly humbling experience to see how appreciative and receptive homeless veterans are towards people willing to give them assistance."
While there is conflict and unrest at home and abroad, it is essential to remember the men and women who protect our nation and its people. We mustn't forget to support them after their formal duties have ended. The hardest battle for many is integrating back into civilian life. Backpacks for Life is providing a crucial service to forgotten veterans and we applaud them, but they need our help - to donate, visit their website. Interested in contributing materials, see what they provide in their packs.
& follow along with Backpacks for Life:
About Look North Inc.
Look North is an award-winning creative and technology studio located in Montclair, New Jersey. What started as a curiousity of all things digital grew into a full-fledged obsession with modern communication tools and techniques. We encourage and actively participate in professional, community and personal organizations and initiatives including volunteer programs and non-profit work.
We've been fortunate to work with alongside these three inspiring young people who are making an impact in the Veteran community. Creative Director and Designer, Joanna Maher, was responsible for logo, website, identity, and collateral design. To work with Joanna and the team at Look North Inc, visit our website.