Volunteering for School is Cool is cool. Just ask LSC staff

Each August, nearly 200 people volunteer their time to help make CSU’s School is Cool backpacks program a success.

Many of the volunteers are CSU employees who take time out of their busy schedules to sort supplies, stuff backpacks and make deliveries to schools in Poudre School District, but some are alumni and/or community members just looking to lend a hand during the three-day process.

LSC leadership stuffs backpacks, builds teamwork

Mike Ellis and his leadership team from the Lory Student Center have been School is Cool volunteers for the past four years. They were back Tuesday, helping sort supplies to be stuffed into 2,500 backpacks for underprivileged area students from kindergarten through high school.

Mike Ellis School is Cool
Mike Ellis, executive director of the LSC, sorts through a stack of backpacks donated for School is Cool.

“Volunteering gets our leadership team outside our normal routine and gives us the chance to see one another in a different setting – one where we can make an immediate impact on our community while also sharing a bit of laughter,” said Ellis, executive director of the LSC and an assistant vice president of student affairs. “The School is Cool leadership team makes it easy for us to step in for a couple of hours—it’s highly organized and we can see the benefits of our assistance right away, knowing also the benefits extend far beyond the time we invest.”

John Parry, watchdog

Eleven members of the leadership group participated, including John Parry, director of the CSU Bookstore. Parry has been part of the School is Cool leadership committee for 20-plus years and is responsible for ordering the many thousands of pens, pencils, notebooks, crayons, scissors, rulers, binders and other supplies that help students succeed. He also helps organize the massive task of getting the supplies off of trucks, out of their boxes, into backpacks and delivered to schools.

“Something funny almost always happens when we’re volunteering, whether someone miscounts items (and thankfully there are backups to double-check numbers), or steps away to answer an important phone call and appears to not be working as hard as others,” Ellis said. “John Parry is usually pretty quick to call one of us out—it’s always good for a laugh in the moment, though we all try to avoid being noticed by John!”

John Parry, director of the CSU Bookstore, is a longtime volunteer for School is Cool.

Another successful year

Volunteers and donors made sure year 27 of School is Cool was a success, with 2,529 backpacks delivered. Students will pick them up at their schools and enter the academic year with the same high-quality supplies as their peers.

Since its creation, School is Cool – a uniquely CSU program – has donated nearly 50,000 backpacks to underprivileged students in PSD schools. Ellis is a big believer in the program.

“The general premise of School is Cool is critical for ensuring all kids in our community have access to quality school supplies,” he said. “The program has been around long enough now that we’re seeing CSU students who benefitted from having school supplies as youth.”

While the backpacks for the 2018-19 school year have been delivered, you can still support School is Cool with your donations.