Every August, SMP Independence works with a community led project called “Stuff the Bus” to donate school supplies to kids that are in need. However, this year, we decided to do a more personal project, helping those in need right here in our plant.
We modeled our new back to school project, “Stuff that Backpack”, after our Christmas project, “Angel Tree.” Stuff that Backpack went over so well for its first year! 11 families in our plant that could use some extra help purchasing needed school supplies were nominated, which equaled a total of 30 kids.
The SMP Cares team made paper backpacks for each kid, with their age, grade and school written on the front. Inside the paper backpack was the school supplies list for their grade/school. Many employees and departments in the plant came in to “adopt” these backpacks, and in just one day, all 30 backpacks were adopted. Our employees went out and bought all of the school supplies on the lists, not including a backpack. 5 years ago during SMP-Independence’s Employee Appreciation Week, we gave out SMP backpacks as a gift and we had quite a few left over. For Stuff that Backpack, we were able to repurpose those left over SMP backpacks to put the school supplies in for these 30 kids.
Once everyone brought all of the school supplies in, the SMP cares team got to work packing it all in the backpacks. Often times, there was not enough room in the backpack, so we tied a plastic bag full of supplies to the backpack. Each backpack had a tag on it that said “Have fun in 2nd grade!” or whichever grade each kid was entering. The tag had a number on the back, which is how we kept track of whose backpack was whose.
The families that were nominated came in to pick up their backpacks of school supplies with grateful hearts. Some even brought their kids in so they could personally say thank you. We kept these families anonymous by scheduling them to come in at different times for pickup. This was an awesome project that felt very personal, since it affected our own employees and their families. All of the employees and departments that went out and bought school supplies bought SO MUCH, that we had more than needed and were able to donate two full boxes of supplies to the community project, Stuff the Bus. We look forward to doing this again next year!