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Backpack program begins to collect school supplies

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Elves Backpack Program

Cornell Elves Backpack Program

Now in its 11th year, the Cornell Elves Backpack Program is accepting new backpacks and supplies for the local area’s neediest children through Aug. 24.

By providing children in need with new backpacks and supplies, the program helps them enjoy their first day of school. Contributors can choose to donate to a particular school from the list of those participating or bring backpacks filled with school supplies to the East Hill Office Building, Suite 102.

Backpacks are given to children entering kindergarten through sixth grade who have been identified by nurses or social workers at their schools. Sponsors include Cornell employees, students, local families, neighbors, businesses and such organizations as the Girl Scouts.

Program supporters can take advantage of upcoming summer and back-to-school sales, purchasing a new backpack and all of the supplies needed for about $20 to $25, said Maureen Brull, who coordinates the program. Or they can write a check to “The Elves” and send it to Brull at Benefits Administration, 395 Pine Tree Road, Ithaca, NY 14850. “The Cornell ‘elves’ know how to stretch a dollar and get what kids need most,” she said.

Businesses also can get involved by donating surplus new pencils, notebooks, glue sticks or other new school supplies.

The Cornell Elves Backpack Program began in 2007, when it donated 284 backpacks for children to start the school year. Support has grown steadily: Last year 1,210 new, filled backpacks were donated to 28 schools. This year, 30 schools are participating.

Because the backpack program is not a registered nonprofit organization – and because of the significant expense and ongoing paperwork involved in becoming a nonprofit – donations to the backpack program are not tax deductible.

“We are proud of the fact that we are simply concerned Cornell employees trying to support our communities,” said Brull. “We have absolutely no overhead costs, and every penny donated goes directly to help children who are truly in need.”

For more information, contact Brull by phone: 607-255-7509 or email:


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Nancy Doolittle