March 22, 2017

Student group, high school partner on backpack drive

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Circle K International, a registered student organization at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, along with faculty and staff at Carbondale Community High School, have organized a backpack drive for the 2017-18 academic year. The “Backpacks for Success” effort is under way.

Garrett Watts, a junior in civil engineering at SIU, is helping organize the effort for Circle K International, which is the collegiate affiliate of the Kiwanis Club. He said beginning on April 3, people who would like donate backpacks should watch for decorative drop-off boxes and display tables located at farmer’s markets, various local businesses and Carbondale Community High School, as well as at SIU’s Morris Library, Student Center, and Student Services Building.

The drop-off points will remain in place through April 28. The backpacks will be distributed to students through the Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale and Carbondale Community High School prior to the start of the school year next fall.

Watts said a teacher at CCHS introduced the student organization to the project.

“Since then, Circle K-International has been working closely with her to make the backpack drive happen,” he said. “We see this project as a great way to combine our members’ service interests with a need that has been expressed to us by members of the community.”

Randy Osborn, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale, said backpacks and other school supplies are a perennial need for local students.

“We’ve been helping supply these for many years as we have a number of kids coming through of all ages who have this need,” Osborn said. “It’s not expense we can absorb ourselves, so it’s a wonderful project they are providing.”

Watts said the project is a great way to help those who have been less fortunate and need a boost to help their academic career.

“I consider myself very lucky to be able to come to SIU for an education and have a strong desire to make sure everyone is afforded the same opportunities that I have been lucky enough to have,” Watts said. “This project is a great way to provide backpacks – items that are taken for granted by many of us, yet are an essential component of an education – to students who would otherwise struggle to obtain one.”