Office Depot Foundation Donates Sackpacks to Joplin Schools

Joplin School Board President Randy Steele; CFO President Brian Fogle; CFSWMO Board Member Don Gould and President Stephanie Howard; Office Depot District Manager Richard Brooks and Joplin Store Manager Jason Steffes.

The Office Depot Foundation today announced a donation of 5,000 back-to-school sackpacks to the Community Foundation of the Ozarks for distribution to schools in Joplin, Springfield, and south-central Missouri.

The donation was announced at a presentation at the Office Depot store in Joplin, where Joplin Public Schools will distribute 1,000 of the sackpacks.

“We will always be a part of the community. We want to be a positive part of the community,” Joplin Office Depot District Manager Richard Brooks said.

Randy Steele, President of the Joplin Board of Education, said there has been a perception that Joplin’s needs have been met since the one-year anniversary mark in the city’s recovery from the May 22, 2011 EF5 tornado.

“The needs haven’t stopped,” he said. “On behalf of the Joplin Public Schools, we thank you. Having great partners like Office Depot makes it work.”

In addition to the Joplin donation, the CFO distributed 1,000 backpacks to schools in its south-central service region based in West Plains, 2,900 to Springfield Title I schools and 100 to the Rare Breed drop-in center for homeless Springfield teens.

The Office Depot Foundation’s donation of the 5,000 sackpacks for Ozarks schools is part of its 2012 National Backpack Program. Since 2001, Office Depot has donated more than 2.9 million backpacks and sackpacks to children around the world.

“The Office Depot Foundation was pleased to support Joplin in a number of ways following the tornado – through direct donations as well as resources to help the business community recover,” Mary Wong, the president of the Office Depot Foundation, said in a statement. “We believe that it is important to continue to be involved long after the news media has moved on to the next story.  The Office Depot Foundation wanted very much to help Joplin a year after the tornado and, thanks to the support and guidance of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, we are pleased to be able to assist the children of Joplin once again this year.”

The CFO and its Joplin-based affiliate, the Community Foundation of Southwest Missouri, have raised about $3.6 million for the Joplin Recovery Fund administered by the CFO/CFSWMO. About $2.43 million has been granted to Joplin-area non-profits for recovery efforts.

“What makes a community foundation work is having local volunteers who understand the needs of the community,” CFO President Brian Fogle said, in recognizing CFSWMO President Stephanie Howard and board member Don Gould at the presentation.