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Attack of the packs

backpack-1_optAshley Perry ’14 (shown right with Blue, the Indianapolis Colts mascot) has taken the University motto of “Education for Service” to heart. A UIndy entrepreneurship major, Ashley became the intern for Indy BackPack Attack the summer after her freshman year and hasn’t looked back since.

The Indy BackPack Attack is a nonprofit organization benefiting 88 percent of needy families in the Indianapolis Public Schools system. Each year, some 200 host sites throughout Indianapolis collect school supplies for four weeks, ranging from backpacks to crayons. Once the collection is over, Indy BackPack Attack divides and sorts supplies to send to IPS schools.

As the Indy BackPack Attack coordinator, Ashley serves as the main contact for the companies that volunteer to serve as collection sites. Part of her job means contacting companies that have been host sites in previous years, encouraging them to serve as a host site again. This year’s drive will take place June 23 through July 18.

Making a pack pact

After host sites have been established, Ashley starts to plan the annual kickoff, taking place at the Indianapolis Zoo in 2014.

Ashley makes sure all companies pick up their collection bins. She also snaps photos during the event and greets the media who cover Indy BackPack Attack. Once the collection is over, she coordinates with companies to figure out when they will drop off collection bins to the warehouse. She also coordinates the 300 to 400 volunteers who sort all of the supplies.

Besides all that work, Ashley helps to maintain the organization’s website and provides a majority of its photos. But her hard work pays off when she sees the smiles on the kids’ faces when they receive their supplies.

“We get the sweetest letters saying how awesome it was they got this backpack,” she says.

In 2013, 46,000 IPS children benefited from the services of Indy BackPack Attack. A majority of supplies are supplemental, meaning teachers and counselors hand out specific supplies that each student needs. Last summer, 5,000 students received fully supplied backpacks.

Not bored yet

Though she is entering her fourth summer as the coordinator, Ashley doesn’t see herself handing the reigns over to anyone else just yet. She just keeps coming back because of the difference Indy BackPack Attack makes in the community.

“I really enjoy doing this,” she says. “I’ve got it down to a science by this point!”

If you’re interested in volunteering or learning more about the Indy BackPack Attack, check out www.indybackpackattack.org.

—Jenn Meadows ’14