September 12, 2016 at 1:15pm
Dane Lisser

Big Blue Backpacks

Big Blue Backpacks, a new Millikin University student-run organization seeking to help alleviate childhood hunger, announced that the organization will start providing bags of food for students in need at Dennis Lab School starting Sept. 9.

A partner of the Good Samaritan Inn, the student-founded Big Blue Backpacks organization will feed nutritious, nonperishable food items to needy students at Dennis Lab School every weekend for the entire school year.

Big Blue Backpacks

With the resources that the students receive, Big Blue Backpacks hopes the students will be able to confidently navigate their academics and improve their rates of attendance and grades.

Big Blue Backpacks will purchase all of its food from the Central Illinois Foodbank in Springfield, Ill. The Millikin students will store and pack the bags of food at the Good Samaritan Inn in Decatur, Ill.

Big Blue Backpacks has been created over the past year and was launched in April 2016 during a presentation at Millikin University's annual Celebrations of Scholarship. Recent graduates and current students involved with the organization include: Trista Smith, a senior human services major from Farmer City, Ill.; Jonathan Rieck, a senior human services major from Elgin, Ill.; Danna Herbach, a senior art therapy major from Wheaton, Ill.; Kayce Fuentes, a junior human services major from Homer Glen, Ill.; Katie Posch, a junior human services major from Midlothian, Ill.; LaTasha Wilson '16, from St. Louis, Mo.; Bryn Agnew '16, from Towanda, Ill.; and Ashley Horan '16, from Batavia, Ill.  

Big Blue Backpacks

The Millikin students are led by faculty advisor Professor Mary Garrison, Millikin associate professor of social work.

"This program will have a significant impact on our community as it works to provide supplemental food to students in need at Dennis Lab School each weekend during the academic year," Garrison said. "Providing 80 students with seven meals over the weekend from Friday night dinner through Sunday night dinner will allow students the opportunity to increase their concentration, energy and motivation and most importantly, improve their academic performance. These positive outcomes will ultimately benefit the greater Decatur community."

Big Blue Backpacks

Each student in the program is budgeted $80 per year, which will provide them with the resources that they need in order to have the chance to succeed. Every financial donation is appreciated, and Big Blue Backpacks is currently offering sponsorship tiers for donors to choose from:

School Desk ($80): Sponsors 1 student for an academic school year

Lunch Table ($800): Sponsors 10 students for an academic school year

Classroom ($2,000): Sponsors 25 students for an academic school year

School Bus ($4,000): Sponsors 50 students for an academic school year

For more information on Big Blue Backpacks, contact Professor Mary Garrison at 217.424.5074 or by e-mail at

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