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Needed: Backpacks for Refugee Children Worldwide

April 23, 2002 — By donating a used backpack, which has carried books from class to class, a University of Utah student can be part of the process that transforms the former tote into a suitcase of sorts for a refugee child in Mali, Ghana, Mozambique or Afghanistan.

The U of U’s Bennion Center and the Humanitarian Resource Center of North America (HRCNA) are sponsoring “Backpack Attack,” with the goal of collecting 500,000 new or used backpacks. The bags will be filled with educational supplies, made and funded by corporate sponsors, then sent to children living in poverty or refugee camps worldwide. Besides finding pencils, erasers, chalk and chalk boards inside the packs, the children can use the backpacks as a means of moving their few belongings from camp to camp. Last year a similar project was initiated by a Bennion Center student who constructed tote bags and sent them to orphans in Africa whose parents had died of AIDS.

“HRCNA is soliciting the help of schools across the state to be part of this worthy cause,” notes Toni Sage, the project’s Bennion Center coordinator. “Hopefully, the University community will help make a difference by donating their old packs which will be put to good use.”

University students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community can make a difference in the life of a child by donating one or more new or used backpacks. Donations should be dropped off by May 15 at the Bennion Center, located in room 101 of the Olpin Union Building, or at the ASUU office, located in room 234 of the Olpin Union Building. For more information, call 801-585-9101.

The Humanitarian Resource Center of North America (HRCNA) is a non-profit philanthropy that gathers humanitarian resources for organizations that help those in desperate need. These groups serve the poorest and most vulnerable populations worldwide-people caught in the effects of war and natural disaster as well as families enduring catastrophic poverty. HRCNA focuses on five areas of need: primary health care, basic education, microenterprise, community environment and local leadership. The HRCNA provides food, clothes, blankets, first-aid supplies, wheelchairs, computers, textbooks, surgical equipment, water filtering systems, dental supplies, power generators, vitamins and additional resources. The organization spends less than 3 percent on administrative costs, allowing 97 percent of all donations to be used to ease human suffering. HRCNA affiliates with many organizations that are involved in effective humanitarian work.