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Four ways you can help students in need

Project Backpack

Since 2010, ECC has taken the lead in Project Backpack, a community-based initiative to benefit students in need.

Four weeks may be plenty of time to gather supplies for the upcoming school year. That's not true for the more than 1,200 students who are homeless and the many others who don't have access to a backpack, a pencil or even food for that matter.

Since 2010, ECC has taken the lead in Project Backpack, a community-based initiative to benefit students in need. More than 10,000 students have been helped since Project Backpack started. Supplies will be distributed on Saturday, Aug. 8, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (or until supplies are distributed), at the Building J Spartan Events Center.

Another need closer to home is ECC's Spartan Food Pantry, which benefits the 28 percent of students who are economically disadvantaged. Operated and stocked by Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society members, the pantry has been opened since February 2015 in Building B, Room B175.

Both need your help. Right now. Here's some ways you could do so.

Make use of those “back to school” sales

Those deals at major retail stores for notebooks, crayons, scissors and loose-leaf paper can go a long way with helping in Project Backpack, said Student Life Coordinator Katie Storey, EdD, the event's organizer. If people can afford to buy extra, she will welcome them.

Likewise for the Spartan Food Pantry, which is gearing up for fall. Amybeth Maurer, director of student life and first-year programs and PTK advisor, said proteins such as beans and meats - especially canned meats like tuna, corned beef hash and chicken - are welcome. Cereal bars, Pop Tarts, pastas, rice and fruit also are popular items. 

To donate for Project Backpack, visit http://www.project-backpack.org/. Food and supply donations can be dropped off at the Student Life Office, in Building B, Room B173. Donations by check should be made out to the ECC Foundation, but include “Spartan Food Pantry” on the memo line, and mailed to 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin, IL 60123.

Lend a hand

Storey said there is always a need for volunteers - especially when the backpacks are prepared on Wednesday, Aug. 5 in the Building J Events Center and distributed on Saturday, Aug. 8. For those who love to organize and “seeing a big mess come together,” Storey said Wednesday is a perfect time to participate.

“We'll never deny a volunteer,” she said.

To volunteer for Project Backpack, visit http://www.project-backpack.org/volunteer_form.html

Money helps too

Although Storey said it takes roughly $20 to create a full backpack, any donation is welcome. The same goes for the Spartan Food Pantry.

Give beyond the date

Storey said Project Backpack goes beyond the distribution date as supplies will continue to be collected for future events. The Spartan Food Pantry also must continue to stock its shelves to help students in need throughout the school year.

No matter how you donate, whether it's cash or supplies, Storey has a suggestion on the best way to help.

“Don't just donate,” she said. “Donate and see how it works. Do both.”

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