Thetas “Pack the Backpack” for local kids in need

Emily Lin-Jones

illustration: Alex Bailey

Whitman’s Kappa Alpha Theta chapter is ushering in the new academic year with “Pack the Backpack,” a school supply drive for local foster children. The event is being run in collaboration with Theta’s national philanthropy organization, Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA), which will distribute the collected materials to children in Walla Walla county’s foster care system.

“We’re very excited,” said sophomore Frannie Nunn, co-coordinator of the event. “This fundraiser is really interesting because it’s a local cause. It makes it personally more exciting to help children that you know are a part of your community.”

Yellow boxes have been placed in the residence halls and other gathering spots on campus to collect donations. Members of Theta will also set up a table in Reid Campus Center from Sept. 12 to Sept. 16 to accept monetary donations and answer questions.

Suggested donations include such essentials as pens, pencils, folders, binders, and highlighters.   The Thetas have expressed their hope that the donated supplies will be able to benefit CASA-sponsored students of all ages.

“When most people hear school supplies they tend to think elementary school, but there are a lot of foster kids in middle school and high school who need stuff too,” said sophomore Mykhanh Pham, the other event coordinator.

“In high school the things you have are more of a status symbol. It can be more embarrassing to go to the front of the classroom and ask your teacher for a binder or folder,” said Nunn.

At the same time, donations for the younger crowd are also highly encouraged.

“When you’re in elementary school, it can be a big deal to have that 64-pack of crayons,” said Pham, adding, “It’s really anything anyone can donate. It doesn’t have to be big. We’ll take anything you’re willing to give.”

Although this year marks the first time “Pack the Backpack” is being run at Whitman, the Thetas have had a long history of organizing fundraisers for CASA, including their annual Cakes for CASA fundraiser.   CASA, which is affiliated with Theta chapters across the nation, specializes in training volunteers to advocate for neglected and abused children in court.

“We are very gracious and happy that they’re doing this project for our kids,” said Jane Sporleder, manager of Walla Walla’s CASA program.

Both Nunn and Pham expressed their hope that “Pack the Backpack” will inspire Whitman students to search for ways to get more involved in their community.

“Whitman students want to make a difference in the world,” said Pham. “If we can get students to think about this and possibly even become a volunteer with CASA, that would be so cool.”