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Maine girl donates more than 200 backpacks to fellow students

For five years, Ava Burke has requested backpacks in lieu of birthday gifts to help area students be prepared to go back to school.

BANGOR, Maine — Age doesn't matter when it comes to giving back to your community, and a young girl from Brewer has done just that.

Ava Burke is just 11 years old, but she's already making a big impact across Maine. 

For the past five years, Ava has requested backpacks for her birthday instead of gifts. She then donates the backpacks to the Penquis "We've Got Your Back" drive in Bangor to help area students be prepared to go back to school. 

Last year, Ava donated 132 backpacks. This year, she donated more than 200.

“I like making all the backpacks as unique as I possibly can, so then all the kids can get special, different backpacks," Ava told NEWS CENTER Maine. "I try to keep it really diverse so kids can find one they really like.”

Penquis Communications Manager Renae Muscatel said these backpacks will go to students in Penobscot, Piscataquis, and Knox counties. 

"Ava's donation means so much to us," Muscatel said. "Here at Penquist, we know that getting kids back to school and giving them the tools that they need is important. When you see a young child that recognizes that need when she goes to school, and she sees her other peers not having what they need and she wants to help, that just means so much to us."

Muscatel added that Ava's donation means more now than it ever has before.

"I went shopping with some donated funds and could not believe the prices of backpacks," Muscatel explained. "I've been doing this for 13 years, and this was the highest jump in prices I have seen. I actually experience some sticker shock."

If you want to help Penquis get kids ready to go back to school, you can go to penquis.org/donate or text HELPASTUDENT to 44321.

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