Children served by Sandcastle Shelter and Stepping Stones Shelter received backpacks last week full of school supplies donated by Franciscan Health Michigan City staff members.

Each gender-neutral backpack was filled with pencils, filler paper, pens, crayons, markers, a ruler, glue sticks, erasers, scissors, a pencil case and folders.

“Today we delivered more than 50 backpacks filled with school supplies to Sandcastle Shelter and Stepping Stones Shelter,” Franciscan Health Michigan City Vice President of Mission Integration Sister Petra Nielsen said on Monday. “These were made possible through the generosity of our staff, who collected backpacks and supplies.”

Twenty five of the 50 backpacks were assembled by Matteo Rizzo, the 5-year-old grandson of Lynn Robbin, a palliative care nurse at Franciscan Health Michigan City.

Matteo shared his own candy in the backpacks he assembled as well.

“He was so excited about getting his own new school supplies and he was really sad when I told him that not every child has new things for school like he does,” Robbin said. “I talked to him about the hospital project and he immediately wanted to help. He was very careful about organizing all the backpacks and making sure there were different colored supplies in each one.”

Robbin said Matteo’s compassion is heartwarming.

“His favorite thing to say when he says goodbye is, ‘Keep me in your heart,’” she said. “Of course, my heart is full when I think about his love for others.”

Nielsen praised Matteo for his, “generosity and Franciscan spirit,” and thanked all staff members who contributed to the effort.

“We are so grateful for the generous, mission spirit of our staff, who always go above and beyond to help with our outreach efforts,” Nielsen said.