Austin MacDonald Blessings in a Backpack

Austin MacDonald is a young actor who currently stars on the Nickelodeon series ‘Life With Boys’.  His work doesn’t stop with his acting, however.  We got to interview the star about his charitable work and endeavors with Blessings in a Backpack.  Check it out below!

Fanlala: Can you explain to us how Blessings in a Backpack aims to put an end to bullying?

Austin MacDonald: Blessings in a backpacks aim is to feed kids, their motto is “hunger doesn’t take the weekend off” Blessings program sends food home on the weekends with kids who may not have enough to eat and hopefully give them the energy and nutrition to do well all the time and get Homework done. I feel that by keeping kids fed and healthy they will stay in school and will be less likely to drop out and get involved in drugs etc... They may have better self esteem and not feel they need to put others down or “bully” them.

F: What can kids at their own schools do to stop bullying?

AM: Speak out, speak up, and say something. We need to stop being afraid to stand up to bullies on behalf of someone else. It sounds so easy as we are afraid we are going to get bullied next. Teachers need to stop looking the other way and parents need to stop with the “not my kid” and get involved. School should be somewhere we feel safe and Principals and teachers need to stop ignoring it, teachers can see a bully in the making before they even start so educate, bring in programs to help find out why they end up being a bully.

F: If kids want to participate in Blessings in a Backpack, how can they help?

AM:  There are 2 websites you can go to. www.blessingsinabackpack.ca (Canada) www.blessingsinabackpack.org (USA) they have great ideas but backpack drives, fund raisers and passing the word around. We are relatively new so the more people who hear about us the more we can raise. There is contact information on both sites.  You can also get info from my site www.austinmacdonald.com .

F: Have you worked directly with the kids benefiting from the charity?  If so, what was it like?

AM: I had the amazing opportunity to go to a Raptors basketball game that tickets were donated by a company. I went with several young boys who are in the program. They really like the program because it doesn’t identify them by having corporate logos on the backpacks they just look like a regular school bag. BIB will be opening several new schools here in Canada and hopefully I will be able to go out again to the schools and meet some of the kids. It really makes you appreciate what you have and I don’t take things for granted and I even question whether I really need those new shoes....

F: What plans do you have for the future to help further your movement?

AM: I want to continue to spread the word and get more and more people involved, do interviews like this. Every one that gets printed reaches out to another group of people that may never have heard about us. Several corporations have made large donations which has given us backpacks & funds to start the program in new schools. The more donations the more schools programs we can start. This program is run by volunteers and the more people who know about it the more volunteers we can get. It only takes $100 Canadian/ $80 US to feed a child for one school year. So really I am just going to keep spreading the word and collecting backpacks, I always have a basement full of backpacks. I also have been getting actor friends to sign some to maybe use at a later date to auction off or give to a special kid in the program!!

It sounds like an amazing program.  We hope it inspires kids across the country to help those who can’t help themselves so easily!  You’ll be able check out Austin in his series ‘Life With Boys’ when it premieres March 17.

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