MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With 9-year-old Jayden and 7-year-old Andrew, Karen Wettanen is always busy. And when back-to-school time arrives, she’s almost always strapped.

The working mom from St. Louis Park lives on a fixed income, so filling up their backpacks stretches her budget.

“The items that go into them, they’re not cheap,” Wettanen said.

That’s why she was so pleased to discover “Simon Says Give.” The nonprofit — founded by 9-year-old Mandi Simon and her mother, Dina — gives backpacks filled with school supplies to kids in need.

“I mean, what an amazing kid to come up with an idea to help other kids like that,” Wettanen said.

This is the third-straight year they’ll get the backpacks filled with supplies, freeing up money for other necessities. And the boys appreciate being able to pick out backpacks with their favorite superheroes.

“An ordinary, just cheap black, blue, whatever backpack, you know, that is not as fun as being able to give the superhero that they’ve been watching on TV,” she said.

But the relationship goes beyond backpacks. When Simon Says Give started throwing birthday parties for kids, the boys were among the first to get them.

“They have all the supplies, everything there that’s needed, the food,” Wettanen said. “They even give a present for my sons.”

It’s just another reason that Wettanen and her sons now consider the Simons part of their extended family.

“Without them, I don’t know where I would be right now,” she said.

Click here for more information on how to donate to Simon Says Give.


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