Clark College’s annual Backpack Project, has finished for the school year. The program collects and distributes backpacks to the children of Clark students who are unable to afford school supplies. In 2018, 65 backpacks were distributed across Clark County.
To apply for the program, parents first fill out a form, then a Clark student or employee sponsors the backpack. Finally, a Clark employee will buy the supplies.
The Backpack Project is run by Cindy Heck, an administrative service manager with Clark College planning and effectiveness and Susan Maxwell, Clark’s ctclink manager.
“We’ve set up our timelines so kids get their backpacks at least a week or two before school starts,” Heck said.
The Backpack Project also collaborates with Veterans Affairs, financial aid and transitional studies departments if additional information about applicants is needed.
According to Maxwell, the application form requires basic information, including the student’s name, grade and the supplies they need. Some schools have similar programs so the Backpack Project also ask which school the child attends.
A parent may also explain their child’s interests as well.
“One thing we’ve tried to do is make sure the backpacks they’re getting is something that is special to them.” Maxwell said.
If you are unable to sponsor a backpack, but have spare school supplies lying around, you can also send them to the Penguin Pantry.
Clark staff are usually involved with the project and are the most consistent sponsors. Maxwell says that many eagerly anticipate the email notification to sponsor backpack. Now in their 15th year, the project has distributed over 900 backpacks. In 2017, they delivered a record-setting 92 backpacks.
“After 15 years, we figure we’ve pretty much got it down now,” Heck said. “We’ve never had a year where we haven’t been able to fill all the requests that come in on time.”
When the project first started, parents and their children used to pick up their backpacks from the office. Both Maxwell and Heck remember that the children would open up their backpacks in the hallway because they were so excited.
Maxwell and Heck’s favorite memories of the project is are the thank you notes.
“This year somebody actually handmade us a [thank you] card,” Maxwell said. “Those kind of things are really touching, because they say they really love their backpacks.”