While her friends enjoy a long summer break, Mandi Simon is working harder than ever ahead of the new school year.
The 13-year-old from the Twin Cities has set an ambitious goal for this year, aiming to supply 10,000 needy children in Minnesota with backpacks and school supplies as part of her "High Five for Supplies" initiative.
Simon has been joined by hundreds of volunteers for the second consecutive weekend as they pack thousands of school bags with pads, markers, pencils, crayons, calculators, binders and other school supplies.
"It's really cool to know that other kids my age want to help kids that are the same age range," Simon told WCCO on Saturday.
The TV station notes she has about a month to go in her backpack drive and still needs to raise enough money for around 3,000 bags, which according to her website cost about $50 each to buy and fill.
The bags will be handed over to several Twin Cities charities, including the YMCA and Beacon Network of Minneapolis and Catholic Charities of St Paul & Minneapolis, who identify which children aged 5-12 could benefit from the bags.
You can find out how to donate here.
'Simon Says Give'
The backpack drive is just one of several programs run each year by "Simon Says Give," the Eagan-based nonprofit organization dreamed up Mandi Simon just weeks before her 8th birthday.
The group, operated by child volunteers, also organizes hundreds of birthday parties every year for disadvantaged children, according to its website.
In its first full year of operation in 2012, the group supported over 100 birthdays and put together 50 backpacks for school, and has since exploded to the point they're celebrating 500 birthdays a year and now want to put together 10,000 backpacks.
It has already reached more than 18,000 children so far, but wanted to grow even further and by 2022 hopes to have impacted the lives of two million.
In 2015, Mandi Simon was named one of the Jefferson Awards Foundation's 2015 GlobeChangers for her efforts, the Star Tribune reported.