Area businesses came together this week to help distribute school supplies collected through the United Way’s annual Backpack Attack to all Hendricks County schools.
In the last few months, the Backpack Attack collected 17,250 school supplies in boxes across the county. They collected 15,000 in 2011. All of the supplies were then taken to the Vincennes University Logistic Center in Plainfield where they were sorted and re-packaged to be distributed to the schools.
James Dolan, director of logistics at the local VU center, helped to coordinate the service learning project.
“This allowed our students to learn how to do a kit project,” Dolan said. “That is basically what happened today. We had a bunch of raw materials and we put them together to be shipped out.”
He said the project helped his students learn even more about the logistics business.
“We teach them about warehouse distribution,” he said. “That’s one of the skills we teach here.”
Dolan is no stranger to the Backpack Attack. This is his first year to be involved in the project in Hendricks County, but he had worked on it in Marion County for the eight previous years.
“I worked with Backpack while at my previous employer — UPS,” he said.
Christy McIntyre-Craig is the volunteer engagement coordinator and Youth as Resources coordinator for the United Way of Central Indiana. She helped coordinate the collections and worked with VU and the other volunteers.
“This was the first time the logistics center was involved with Backpack,” McIntyre-Craig said. “And it’s been wonderful. They are a great asset to our community.”
Representatives from Duke Energy, Hendricks Power Cooperative, and Vectren helped with the project by distributing the supplies to Hendricks County schools.
“The trucks from the power companies just came here and filled up their trucks,” McIntyre-Craig said.
Mary Geisting from the Plainfield Community School Corporation volunteered at the event and even brought speakers to inspire the other volunteers.
“We are seeing more and more need,” Geisting said. “People you would never expect are asking for help. These are people that have donated in the past — now they need the help.”
She said the school supplies help students to come into class on a level playing field.
“It helps with their self esteem,” she said. “These supplies will help them be a part of the group — to feel normal.”
Geisting said it helps the schools to have these donated supplies on hand as students go back to class.
“Each school has a room where the supplies will be kept,” McIntrye-Graid said. “Then when they need them, they are there.”
And this project could not have been possible without volunteers from the community who donated and helped to sort the supplies.
Wendy Fowler is a 2011 graduate of Leadership Hendricks County. She and nine of her classmates met at the logistics center Tuesday to volunteer their time.
Jane Pfaffenberger has been helping to sort school supplies for several years with Backpack Attack. She brought the youngest volunteer of the day to participate — her grandson, Sam Richman.
“I started with Crayons and pencils,” Richman, 9, said. “And this isn’t my first year. I did this two years ago.”
Richman is an Avon resident. He helped out on the last day of his summer vacation.
“He’s heading back to school tomorrow (Aug. 1),” Pfaffenberger said. “Doing this really makes you feel good. The people who do this every year are very dedicated.”
Pfaffenberger was a school nurse for 10 years and has a daughter who teaches in the Indianapolis Public School system.
“There is simply more need,” she said. “And seeing all these donations is so nice.”