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Hawken Students Ship Backpacks to Louisiana


LYNDHURST, Ohio, Sept. 13 -- Students and parents at Hawken School are coordinating a Hurricane relief effort that will send 5,000 backpacks, filled with personal and school supplies, to displaced school children in Lafayette County, Louisiana.

What began as an idea dreamt up by several Hawken third graders, “Backpacks 4 Kids” is rapidly expanding to a volunteer effort involving numerous area schools. A truck is arriving at Hawken’s Lyndhurst campus on September 14, and will accept donations of backpacks through Monday, September 19. The truck will depart with the backpacks on Tuesday, September 20. Transportation and shipping costs are being donated by several Hawken parents.

When Hawken parent Lori Shellenberger contacted the superintendent’s office of the Lafayette School District in Louisiana, the Backpacks 4 Kids proposal received an emotional response. “When I informed Lafayette’s relief coordinator that our children were preparing backpacks for the displaced students, there was a long silence. I realized these were silent tears, and, when she could speak again, the coordinator simply thanked me over and over again. The Lafayette School District has already done so much for these children and is working around the clock to meet their most basic educational needs. These backpacks will be a wonderful supplement to their heroic efforts,” says Ms. Shellenberger.

Student-led relief campaigns have been active since the opening day of classes at Hawken School. Upper School students have raised over $2000 through dress-down days and bake sales for donation to the Red. Long-term relief efforts will commence in October, when Upper School students plan to launch a support network for families seeking refuge in Cleveland, and long-distance relationships with several schools in the Gulf region that have been directly affected by Katrina.

Hawken’s Admission team has communicated through the National Association of Independent Schools, the Ohio Association of Independent Schools and the Southern Association of Independent Schools an offer to admit displaced students. The school has already received and responded to an inquiry regarding relocation and enrollment from one alumna.

The larger Cleveland community is encouraged to participate in Backpacks 4 Kids and information about backpack donations may be found at or at

Hawken School is an independent, nonsectarian, coed day school of approximately 950 students, grades pre-K through 12, located on two campuses in the eastern suburbs of Cleveland. Founded in 1915, Hawken is recognized as one of the premier college preparatory schools in the nation with a diverse student body participating in a challenging program of academics, arts, and athletics that prepares them to meet the challenges of tomorrow’s world.


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