Colorado State University Employees Organize Program that Provides School Supplies for Area Children

Note to Editors: Colorado State University volunteers will organize backpack supplies starting at 8 a.m. August 9 at Edwards Hall Cafeteria. Community and university volunteers will stuff backpacks starting at 9 a.m. August 10 at Edwards Hall Cafeteria. Backpacks will be delivered to schools August 11 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. To set up interviews or photos, contact June Greist at (970) 491-6432.

A community outreach effort organized by Colorado State University employees will provide more than 900 area elementary and junior-high school children with new backpacks and back-to-school supplies this fall.

The School Is Cool program raised more than $12,400 to give less-fortunate children the supplies they need to start the school year. Through the program, university employees buy and fill backpacks or donate funds that are used to purchase packs and supplies.

"The first days of school can be scary for children," said Kathy Phifer, program co-founder and university publications specialist. "School is Cool helps students feel good about themselves and helps ease the expenses families face each fall. Starting the year with the right tools helps students focus on learning, rather than on the things they need and may not have."

This year, the program received support from Qwest DEX and the University Bookstore as well as from many companies that donated supplies or extended discount prices for supplies.

On Aug. 10 and 11, Colorado State employees will donate time to stuff and deliver the backpacks to area schools. 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.

"School Is Cool was launched in 1992," said Phifer. "That year, 63 backpacks were distributed to Poudre School District elementary and junior-high students. Although our program has grown-we distributed 854 packs in 1999-the number of disadvantaged children in Fort Collins also continues to grow.

"There are so many families in our community that need a helping hand. The Colorado State University community always does an amazing job at opening their hearts and wallets for these kids. It’s a great way for us to foster the concept of learning."

More than 4,100 Poudre School District students-almost 21 percent-participate in the free and reduced-price 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.

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