Colorado State University Program Provides Back to School Supplies for Area Children

Note to Editors: Colorado State University volunteers will organize backpack supplies starting at 10 a.m. August 10 in the Durrell Center. Community and university volunteers will stuff backpacks starting at 8 a.m. August 11 in the Durrell Center. Backpacks will be delivered to schools August 12 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. To set up interviews or photos, contact June Greist at (970) 491-6432.

Colorado State University’s School Is Cool program, a community outreach effort organized by university employees, will provide hundreds of area school-children with backpacks and supplies this fall.

The School Is Cool program, in its eighth year, was designed to give less-fortunate children the supplies they need to start the school year. The program is funded by donations from Colorado State employees and community members with support from US WEST DEX and Norlarco Credit Union. Through the program, university employees are invited to buy and stuff backpacks or to donate cash used to purchase packs and supplies. Employees then donate time to stuff and deliver the backpacks to area schools.

"Getting a good start is priceless," said Kathy Phifer, program co-founder and university publications specialist. "This program builds students’ self esteem and helps ease the expenses families face each fall."

The number of disadvantaged children in Fort Collins continues to grow. More than a quarter of students enrolled in Poudre School District participate in the free and reduced-lunch program. The number of backpacks distributed to each school is based on the school’s percentage of students enrolled in this special lunch program.

When School Is Cool was launched in 1992, 63 backpacks were distributed to Poudre School District elementary and junior-high students. Last year, the program received more than $15,000, enabling the purchase of more than 900 stuffed backpacks.

Every year, the School Is Cool program receives hundreds of thank-you letters from parents, children and school administrators. Last year, one student wrote, "thanks for the school supplies. I really appreciate it. We’re short on money and we’re trying to save up."

An elementary school counselor wrote, "providing supplies and backpacks has helped remove economic barriers and has helped these children feel like their peers."

After Colorado State volunteers deliver the packs to the 36 participating schools, school principals discreetly distribute the backpacks so children and their families are not identified.

For more information about School Is Cool, call Phifer at (970) 491-6561.