When David Adamiec was 11, his mom was participating in community outreach projects at their First Congregational Church in Westbrook Center, Conn. (pop. 2,238). In one project, the church group prepared packages of clothing and other necessities for children removed from abusive homes. Thinking back, David says, “I decided to make five packs. I just thought it (would be) a fun thing to do.”
But collecting the contents of those first packs wasn’t as easy as he thought. “I asked everywhere, just begging everyone I could find,” David says. “When I walked into a store and approached the manager at 11 years old, they’d just turn me down.” But David visited store after store until he collected enough clothing, toothbrushes, and toys for five packs, which he delivered to a nearby Department of Child and Family Services.
During that visit, David heard a social worker describe children using plastic grocery bags to carry a few supplies to school. “That really made me upset,” David says. “That made me want to get into it more.” And get into it he did.
“I’ll never forget the day I walked into David’s room,” his mom, Brenda Adamiec says, “and he said, ‘The kid packs don’t have enough toys in them.’ He took his car collection and spread it among the packs. That’s when I knew. It was in his heart, and he was lost to this cause.”
That was six years ago, and David named the cause Kid Packs of America—which now holds national nonprofit status and hosts a website, www.kidpacksusa.org. Although David runs the enterprise largely on his own, he receives help from longtime friends and members of his church, and last year he delivered more than 300 kid packs. He also started another project, called School Packs—new backpacks filled with paper, a notebook, a lunchbox, pens, a calculator, and more. Last August alone, David delivered 400 school packs for needy children. He even fine-tunes kid and school packs for different ages. Thinking back on delivering his first school packs, David says, “The very next day, I saw one in my hallway at school, and I was shocked because it was one of my friends.”
David’s work started drawing national attention in 1998, when Anthony Carrano—David’s eighth-grade social studies teacher—nominated him for the Prudential Spirit of Community Award, which he received. “I thought it was absolutely incredible that an eighth-grader took the initiative and did this,” Carrano says. “Peer recognition is important at that age, but David did this totally on his own.”
With time, David’s projects have earned even more recognition. For instance, he received a Daily Points of Light Award in 1998 (The Points of Light Foundation, founded in Washington, D.C., in 1990, promotes volunteerism). Today, David also works with other young volunteers through The Heart of America Foundation, a humanitarian network.
The growing reputation of Kid Packs of America sometimes pays sweet dividends. Not long ago, David found 30 cartons of high-quality notebooks stacked by his doorstep and never discovered who left them there. If donations fall short, though, he and his family use their own money to purchase what they need. “Either way,” David says, “we’ll have the packs.”
David hopes to arrange a statewide project that delivers kid and school packs all over Connecticut. After that, he hopes to take his organization to a national level. The idea already is spreading. Young volunteers from the Heart of America Foundation have established Kid Packs of America in five other states—California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, and Ohio. David seems as surprised as anyone by this phenomenon.
In the end, he simply hopes others will make time to volunteer, too. As he says, “It just really makes you feel good, knowing you’re helping someone, someone like you.”