Helping little Penguins start the school year right


Eleven years–that is how long Clark employees have been generously donating backpacks and supplies to school-aged children of Clark College students through the Annual Backpack Project. This year, employees sponsored 76 backpacks, adding to a cumulative total of well over 600 backpacks collected so far.

backpack14_1Once again, the Office of Planning and Effectiveness oversaw the donation process. Student parents were identified by staff members from Financial Aid, Child & Family Studies, Eligibility Programs, and Veteran Affairs. In August, employees from across the college volunteered to purchase and fill backpacks. Each donor was given a shopping list that included basic information about the child–age, gender, favorite colors and themes–as well as specific items that child would need at school. The backpacks were presented to their recipients before the beginning of the school year.

backpack14_2Through emails and thank-you notes, students expressed their gratitude at receiving the backpacks. One parent’s response expressed the realities faced by many families with both children and parents in school: “I received the backpacks for the kids today and I am overwhelmed with gratitude,” she wrote. “I didn’t realize that supplies would be included. … I appreciate the support. It was a difficult decision to come back and finish my degree. There is a lot of family sacrifice involved, [and] gestures like these make a big difference. Thank you.”

Another student wrote, “As a single working mother, this is a great stress relief.” Yet another card read, “I’m currently homeless, so this helps so much.”

The children also expressed delight as they picked up backpacks stuffed full of supplies. As one child put it: “I really like it, and can’t wait to use it for school.”

Story and photos submitted by Susan Maxwell