The Berrien Community Foundation (BCF) is helping students get ready to learn this fall by providing over 3,000 backpacks filled with school supplies to students across Berrien County.
BCF will host four Backpacks For Good school readiness events for students attending Niles, Brandywine, Coloma, Watervliet and Hagar #6 schools as well as students residing in the 49022 zip code. New this year is the Benton Harbor Backpacks For Good, sponsored by Whirlpool Corporation.
Backpacks For Good Events:
- For Brandywine Students:
August 10, 5 – 7 p.m. at Brandywine Elementary School
- For Niles Students:
August 12, 5 - 7 p.m. at Niles High School
- For Coloma, Watervliet and Hagar #6 Students:
August 19, 4-6 p.m. at Coloma High School
- For Students in the 49022:
August 25, 3-6 p.m. at Whirlpool Riverview Campus, 600 W. Main St., Benton Harbor, in the Employee Parking Lot
“As kids get ready to head back to the classroom, we are excited to offer our annual Backpacks For Good event to help ease the financial burden back-to-school shopping may bring to families,” Berrien Community Foundation President Lisa Cripps-Downey said. “Especially after the year we’ve all had, families may be feeling a tighter squeeze on their pocketbook.”
In addition to the backpacks and school supplies, Feeding America’s Mobile Food Pantry will be on site for the Niles, Brandywine and Coloma/Watervliet/Hagar events.
Families of students who attend the above listed schools are encouraged to bring their children to the event at their school district so they can choose their backpack and visit with other community resources as well.
“Most of us remember how exciting it was to get your new backpack and supplies before school started,” said BCF Program Manager Susan Matheny. “We want to make sure every child has that experience and looks forward to going back to school with all the things they need.”
Whirlpool Corporation is sponsoring the Benton Harbor Backpacks For Good event, the De Groot Family Foundation is sponsoring the Coloma Backpacks For Good, and the Backpacks For Good events for Niles and Brandywine school districts are in partnership with the Frederick S. Upton Foundation.
Volunteers Make It Happen
Volunteers are a key part of making Backpacks For Good run smoothly. Niles resident Jonny Reinhardt saw the 2020 Niles giveaway event as an opportunity to give back to the community he just moved to.
“I’m a really big advocate for volunteering when you have the chance and everyone giving a little bit of themselves,” Reinhardt said. “This was a very fulfilling experience for me, and the Backpacks For Good is a great event. To see it grow over time shows not only is it the right thing to do, but it is also very needed in the community.”
Coloma resident Shirley Leith volunteered at the event for three years and has seen first-hand how much good the event does in the community.
“It’s so gratifying to volunteer at this event,” Leith explained. “It’s something I truly enjoy doing. Last year there were so many people there. It may just be a backpack, but it’s one less thing for families to buy and helps them out a great deal.”
For more information on all backpack events, go to www.berriencommunity.org/backpacksforgood.