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Howard Students Collect Backpacks for Needy D.C., Caribbean Children

LiLi Stephens-Henry left, has teamed with National Urban League  Vice President Michael Thompson to collect 500 backpack for needy school children in Washington and the Caribbean.

WASHINGTON (April 7, 2011) – Students at Howard University have launched a program to supply hundreds of schoolchildren in Washington and in the Caribbean with backpacks.

The donation drive, called “Lili’s Backpack Project,” is led by the Howard University Caribbean Students Association (HUCSA), one of the largest campus social organizations. The drive is named after Liane “Lili” Stephens-Henry, a senior at Howard, who came up with the idea after seeing how expensive school backpacks were on a visit to Jamaica two years ago.

“At the end of the semester, students in the dorms dump a lot of items they don’t want to ship back home,” she said. “It seems like a simple thing, but a backpack to a child who does not have one is life-changing.”

In Washington, two schools in the Deanwood neighborhood have been identified as beneficiaries. Donations will also be sent to Haiti and to two schools in Jamaica.

Howard’s Department of Residence Life is supporting the project. The drive hopes to collect 500 bags before May 15, the day Howard residence halls close. Drop-off bins are located in each hall.

Florida International University, Broward College and the University of Miami are also participating.

Supporters of the project include the National Urban League, Grace Kennedy Foods International, Home Depot, FedEx and Dennis Shipping Company. The three Howard residence halls that collect the most backpacks will receive gift baskets from Grace Kennedy Foods.

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