Back to School Bash hosted by KIDS CARE, a nonprofit founded by an 8-year-old

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Jul. 31—MARIETTA — The intense heat of the day did not stop people from crowding the Cobb County Civic Center parking lot to enjoy games and vendors at the KIDS CARE Back to School Bash on Saturday.

KIDS CARE — Kindness In Doing Service Connecting And Respecting Everyone — is a nonprofit dedicated to giving back to children in need. The organization on Saturday collected and sorted various school supplies and stuffed them into backpacks that help students get their school year off to a good start.

Headed by its co-founders, Amy Burke and her 12-year-old daughter, Jada, KIDS CARE works with struggling communities, offering relief to those who need it with the only form of payment being the reward of helping others.

KIDS CARE launched almost four years ago when Amy Burke, who was homeschooling Jada, urged her daughter to make an acrostic poem as a way to keep busy while the two were traveling by car. Jada, who was 8 years old at the time, finished the task in less than a minute and created the first part of the nonprofit's name — KIDS.

"I told her what it meant, and she immediately pulled over the car," Jada Burke said. "I told her that I just wanted to make a club where kids choose what we do."

Amy Burke, formerly a paramedic, took to the idea immediately, sparing no time talking it through with Jada as the beginning stages of KIDS CARE took shape.

"I asked her why she picked KIDS, and she ... told me she wanted to get kids together to do nice things for each other, but in a way they wanted to do it," Amy Burke said. "I gave her a fist-bump and said, 'We can do that.'"

KIDS CARE formed within a group of homeschooled children. The group's first event was a book drive that donated more than 1,000 books to local nonprofits.

"After (that first) event, I thought to myself, 'I don't think this is going away,'" Amy Burke said. "Before I could talk myself out of it, I was sitting at the computer filling out the paperwork to become a nonprofit organization."

Since that first book drive, KIDS CARE has grown to support seven different nonprofits with various drives. Last year, the group partnered with the Cobb County Police Department to donate 283 backpacks, Amy Burke said.

The annual event attracts families from all over Georgia, as well as people from out of state to donate. While their reach lies beyond the borders, the program continues to teach the importance of helping out your neighbors close to home, Amy Burke said. "First, you've got to be successful helping your neighbors."

Jada's vision was apparent Saturday as about a dozen child volunteers ran all the operations — taking inventory, sorting and packing the school supplies.

As of Saturday afternoon, the group had collected 86 stuffed backpacks ready to be dropped off at seven nonprofit organizations — Safepath, Ser Familia, LiveSafe Resources, Simple Needs of Georgia, Cool Kids Committee, The Center for Family Resources and The Center for Children and Young Adults.