11-year-old asks for backpack donations instead of birthday presents

Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 6:06 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - How many 11-year-olds do you know asks for donations instead of presents for their birthday?

Meet Ava Burke.

For the last five years, Ava has been collecting backpacks for Penquis’ “We’ve Got Your Back” drive where she continues to pass each goal she sets for the amount of bags donated. And this year despite rising costs, she did just that.

“The goal has kind of been like an awesome challenge for me. Because I’m like, okay, so we need, like 200 backpacks. And then I strive to meet the goal. And then after I make that goal, I still have a bunch for donation. So I’m like, okay, lets get more,” said Ava/

Her father, Adam Burke, says that at first he thought it would be difficult to reach this years goal of 200 backpacks, but with the help of the community and resilience of his daughter, Adam knew his daughter would go above and beyond no matter what.

“This year it has been more difficult, you know, with price increases, and it was getting a little harder to find different backpacks. But, you know, we had no doubt that she reached her goal and, you know, again, she’s just an amazing kid and done a great job,” said Adam.

Speaking of different backpacks, Ava makes sure that there are no duplicates so that each backpack is unique for every child.

Penquis Community Relations Manager Renae Muscatell gets more impressed each year when she sees Ava’s donations.

“When I first met her at 5 years old coming in wanting to donate her backpacks instead of receiving birthday gift, it was just really, really touching. And to see where it’s grown today and what she’s done. She’s just an inspiration,” said Muscatell.

Ava plans to continue to surpass her goal each year.

If you’d like to donate, click here.

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