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Dozens of Conference Attendees Exhibit Their Volunteer Spirit Stuffing 1,000 Bags with Non-Perishable Items for Students in Need

Visitors to Blessings in a Backpack stuff bags for students and families in a nearby community. Photo by Silas Bryant.

Sheila Brown was bothered by a bad leg as she trudged through the exhibit floor at the AASA conference on Friday. But the discomfort wasn’t bad enough to stop her from volunteering to stuff bags with items for the needy at the annual Blessings in a Backpack event.

“It feels really good,” said Brown. “I’ve always wanted to do something like this.”

Brown, a program analyst with the Environmental Protection Agency, was one of the dozens of volunteers who took a break from their conference schedules to help stuff bags.

A steady stream of dozens of volunteers walked in from the exhibit hall floor to an area in the corner of the hall that had been arranged with two tables of non-perishable food.

Volunteers started at one end, picked up a gray bag and then proceeded down the row of tables to put supplies into the bags. The goodies included breakfast cereals, crackers, soup cans and pineapple cups.

Chad Coauette, CEO of Sourcewell, which sponsored the event, had rolled up his sleeves to help out and couldn’t help but notice the reaction of the volunteers.

“They’re smiling,” he noted.

The event is designed to address food insecurity among children and the goal was to provide 1,000 bags that will be delivered to local schools.

That was music to the ears of Kristen Crowe, chief community officer for Scholarship Prep schools, which is receiving the stuffed bags. Her schools in Southern California, including one in Oceanside in north San Diego County, make it their mission to help support children in need and particularly children who are homeless.

“This is huge to us,” Crowe said.

The event was inspiring for Michelle Imperial, a school board member from Mountain View School District in Ontario, Calif., who was attending her first AASA conference.

“It’s very heartwarming,” she said.

(Luis Monteagudo Jr. is a freelance writer in San Diego and a reporter on Conference Daily Online.)

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