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One day, Mari Copeny, commonly known across the internet as Little Miss Flint, is providing her community with 80,000 bottles of water to supplement the city’s undrinkable water crisis. And the next, she’s fundraising to buy and fill 10,000 backpacks with school supplies for the children in her Michigan city.
At 11-years-old, Copeny is a pint-sized powerhouse, and for her third year of involvement with nonprofit Pack Your Back, she’s providing Flint’s kids with schools supplies. It’s one of the many activities that Copeny has organized for the children in her community to make sure that they don’t just have necessities, but that they also have fun, including movie screenings, parties, and toy giveaways.
For 2018’s Pack Your Back Challenge, Copeny set her goal to fill 10 times the amount of backpacks she gave away last year, bringing that total to 10,000.
To accomplish that goal, she’s been unpacking trucks, filling backpacks, and distributing them at events. Each backpack costs $4 to fill, she wrote on her GoFundMe page, so if people could help her reach her goal of $75,000, she’ll take care of the rest. Remaining funds are going toward programming for the children of Flint via Pack Your Back, which was involved in Copeny’s last water donation event of 80,000 bottles.
First 300 backpacks being given out now https://t.co/dwvixQ25mW— Mari Copeny (@LittleMissFlint) August 1, 2018
You guys....we are under $3k from hitting $50k for getting #FlintKids school supplies. Help me send Flint Kids back to school. @statebags donated the backpacks, I'll stuff them just need help buying supplies. #10KBackpacks https://t.co/3a7JQPzvpf pic.twitter.com/EWySaaLwKP— Mari Copeny (@LittleMissFlint) August 5, 2018
Through social media updates of Copeny’s backpacking process, one post in particular has caught Twitter’s eye—a snapshot of her looking exhausted while sitting down, leaning against a tower of school supplies multiple times her size.
“This kid works her butt off for #flintKids, let’s show her how much we support her in helping Flint Kids,” the tweet, signed by her mother Loui “Lulu” Brezzell, read.
And so Copeny and her efforts have gone viral once more, showing the internet’s enthusiasm in helping her reach her goal.
Some commented their support on the post itself, commending Copeny for her work.
If only the politicians in Lansing were this dedicated then this young person wouldn't need to be— 🌲🌿🌞🌎🖊️🍎Rover223 (@rover223) August 1, 2018
Others shared screenshots and mentions of their own donations.
Change the world girl! pic.twitter.com/YCx0Z2JdYC— curlykea (@curlykea) August 2, 2018
It was my pleasure to donate— Susan M (@susan4000_susan) August 4, 2018
Thank you for doing good. I just donated. It’s not much but I hope it helps even a little. Thank you 🙏🏻— Yesi 🐹💫Watching fools change the world (@MoonFlower_FG) August 4, 2018
One Twitter user, Areli, quoted Copeny’s tweet and went mega-viral, garnering 30,000 retweets for Flint’s loudest advocate—although, she definitely meant that Copeny is raising funds for 10,000 backpacks, not 100,000. With Copeny’s goal having multiplied by 10 each year—first, with 100 backpacks in 2016, then 1,000 in 2017—who’s to say that she won’t shoot even higher next year with 100,000 backpacks?
Little Miss Flint is raising funds to help donate 100,000 backpacks filled with supplies for the kids in Flint. It costs about $4 to fill each backpack! Everyone sponsor a backpack and donate $5 so we can help her reach that goal! https://t.co/z6tyDLNyqw— areli (@relzarellano) August 1, 2018
I added an extra zero, it's 10,000** backpacks— areli (@relzarellano) August 1, 2018
Michigan gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed shared Copeny’s post, writing that she “shouldn’t have to bail us out of our political failures.”
An 11-year-old works 24/7 to get clean water for Flint. It STILL doesn't have any.— Abdul El-Sayed (@AbdulElSayed) August 1, 2018
We have 21% of the world's fresh water, and corporations like Nestle bottle it for free.
See the problem? Heroes like @LittleMissFlint shouldn't have to bail us out of our political failures. https://t.co/kvXQ6gGDCC
In the past 12 days, Copeny’s back-to-school fundraiser has raised more than $54,000 of her $75,000 goal. And as of two days ago, Copeny had sent more than 2,000 backpacks to schools in Flint, just a fifth of her set goal.
Copeny told the Daily Dot that the remaining backpacks, about 8,000, will be stuffed on Aug. 28 and 29. A majority of them will be taken to the schools, but other kids in Flint who don’t attend a school receiving distribution will be able to get a backpack during a giveaway at the end of the month.
As for the possibility of filling 100,000 backpacks in 2019? Copeny told the Daily Dot via Twitter that since there aren’t even that many kids in Flint (the total population of the city is about 96,000), she has her sights set on a different goal.
“Our next big project will be stuff your stocking which is our Christmas event,” Copeny said. “We plan to give away thousands of toys then.”
With the same determination that she’s employed to bring clean water to the residents of Flint, Little Miss Flint is sure to get any job done—in between these cute but stark snapshots that make you realize the exhaustive lengths that an 11-year-old has put herself through just to make her community a better place.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with quotes from Mari Copeny.
Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.