Author: Nicole Schneider

Turtle Back Pack Drive Benefits Freedom House Homeless Shelter


(WLUK) — Two compassionate organizations have come together to give Green Bay area kids backpacks filled with supplies.

Trades of Hope partners with women in 17 countries to create unique jewelry, home décor and various other items native to their country that is sold internationally. It empowers the women out of poverty and sex trafficking.

Artisans in Guatemala hand sew adorable turtle backpacks; each one is unique. Patti VanderPloeg, a Trades of Hope entrepreneur, is soliciting individuals to sponsor backpacks for $26. Patti then fills the backpacks with new crayons, markers, bubbles and other items to donate to Freedom House in Green Bay.

Freedom House offers emergency shelter, food, basic hygiene items and the support and comprehensive programming to help families get back out on their own.

“These young children rarely have items like these of their own and, as the older children are getting their school supplies the younger siblings will be blessed with their own backpacks to help them develop fine motor skills,” Patti VanderPloeg said.

So far, 46 backpacks have been sponsored. Freedom House shared that families spend an average of 8 – 12 weeks so any extra backpacks will be given to new children that arrive at the shelter in the upcoming months.

Women in Guatemala make the backpacks. Trades of Hope explains that women in that Central American country often struggle through abuse, poverty, and heartache. But these women are now becoming proud business owners by utilizing their traditional skills, they are able to create beautiful products that reflect their culture. They can provide for their families at home rather than leaving in search of work and can also send their children to school to pursue their dreams. This is because people around the world purchase their work!

Trades of Hope is also donating puppets, made by artisans in India for children at Freedom House.

If you are interested in donating a $26 turtle backpack to Freedom House, contact Patti VanderPloeg via email at