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IICF Week of Giving: Midwest Division Helps Provide Backpacks to Low-Income Students

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IICF volunteers help the nonprofit Enchanted Backpack, which provides supplies for students in low-income communities.

As students head back to school and the season transitions into Fall, it is important to understand the struggles that students from low-income families face and to support them toward academic success. A startling 38% of the more than 27 million children in the U.S.live in low-income families. Enchanted Backpack was created to help close the gap for students from these struggling families so they can focus on achieving educational excellence.

Enchanted Backpack was formed with the belief that all children deserve to have the tools they need to learn and excel and that all teachers deserve to have the support and materials to make their classrooms exciting learning centers. We support this vision through our programs that provide students, schools and teachers alike with the resources they need such as brand-new supplies, books, hats/coats/gloves, socks, incentive items, art supplies, personal hygiene items and more. Our programs include the Mobile Van Program, Adopt-A-School Program, Partner Program, Teacher Appreciation Program and Washer/Dryer program.

Our vans, a part of our Mobile Van Program, are the real backpacks that carry all supplies and resources directly to the schools that need them. These vans deliver approximately $10,000 worth of items to schools every year, retailing for over $40,000 per school. We are fortunate to have corporate buying experience to tap into, enabling us to find vendors of the materials we need and purchase them at cents on the dollar. It truly is a privilege to be able to do so.

Founded by the Lavin Family Foundation, the organization supports elementary and middle schools with at least 50% of students eligible for the Federal Free/Reduced Lunch Program and has supported more than 200 schools in Northern Illinois and Northwest Indiana to date. Thanks to the support of the Lavin Family Foundation underwriting 100% of administrative costs and matching gifts up to $1 million annually, Enchanted Backpack is able to put every single dollar donated directly toward supporting more than 20,000 students each year 

“Because of Enchanted Backpack’s help, [these students] can have what they need at school, so we are very grateful. They have been just a wonderful, wonderful partner for us, and I don’t know how we would ever thank them for their help. I just hope they know that what they have done for us is very much appreciated,” said Sharon Leamy, Principal, St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Lucy School, an Enchanted Backpack recipient.

During this year’s Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) Week of Giving, Enchanted Backpack is excited to welcome IICF volunteers back to our warehouse. This past summer, in preparation for back-to-school season, we hosted a group of IICF’s insurance industry volunteers at our warehouse to pack hundreds of bags of clothing to be distributed to students throughout the schools we serve.

This Week of Giving, we look forward to hosting a group of 20 IICF volunteers at our 15,000- square-foot warehouse in Bensenville, IL who will be creating boxes of art materials and mixing packs of soft goods (coats, t-shirts, socks and more) to distribute to students in low-income communities. If you would like to join IICF in supporting Enchanted Backpack during this year’s Week of Giving, please sign up here and to learn more about supporting Enchanted Backpack throughout the year, please visit https://www.enchantedbackpack.org/support to donate or volunteer.

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