Stillwater News Press

June 12, 2013

Backpack project returns at Ripley school

By Chase Rheam
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — A Ripley woman is looking to repeat the success of a project she created last school year.

Susan Henderson asked residents and those who could help to donate school supplies or give monetary donations in order to give every child at Ripley Elementary School supplies and a backpack.

The program succeeded with 250 backpacks full of pencils, paper and other items stuffed inside being handed out.

“It was a difference maker,” Henderson said. “It was a difference maker not only in the community and the parents who it took a huge weight off their shoulders, but it started school off on a different foot.”

Henderson said the program takes the burden off both parents and teachers.

“Ripley is a pretty poor community and our school teachers provide a lot of supplies because the parents just can’t,” she said.

Ripley Elementary Principal Lisa Pitts echoed the sentiment.

“We are very high poverty in Ripley, about 87 percent,” Pitts said. “Anything that comes toward our school is put to good use and we are grateful for it. We never turn away a donation of any kind.”

Students did not have to qualify in any way and everyone was treated the same, Henderson said.

Henderson, who serves as the Ripley School Board President, hopes to do the same thing again before school begins on Aug. 8. More than 20 backpacks have already been donated through Stillwater’s Crosspointe Church, but more are needed to meet the 250 goal.

While the group, a 501(c)3, can take monetary donations, Henderson prefers that those who wish to help sponsor a child or two for whom to buy the backpack and supplies.

She said the average cost per student is $35.

The backpacks will be handed out at the second annual Back to School Fair at Ripley Elementary Aug. 6.

Pitts said Henderson did a wonderful job last year.

“It is a wonderful program,” she said.

“We have never had anything like that brought to Ripley. It was the first time that my teachers had ever not had to buy supplies with their own money.”

For more information on the program, call Susan Henderson at 405-612-7433.