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Boomerang Backpacks

In Northern Indiana there is a program making a difference within the homes of hundreds of families. Boomerang Backpacks, created by Mark Cockraft, is a program that is initiated through high school student councils. Kirk Doehrmann, principal of Tippecanoe Valley High School, was a part of one of the first Boomerang Backpack programs to start.

“I got involved because I needed a community project and this fit a need I saw in our community,” Kirk said. Boomerang Backpacks helps his school in multiple ways. It is a great program that offers internships for grant writing and fund raising, career training for his special ed class (inventory, packing the bags, and delivery), and of course helping elementary school students have food over the weekend. The student work doesn't stop there though, student council and even marketing classes help with this program. Student Council helps our interns with the fund raising and a little bit with the inventory, while our marketing class helps get the word out to the public and service learning announcements.

Boomerang Backpacks isn't just a program that keeps kids from being hungry over the weekend. “We have found attendance, discipline, and grades to be better for the kids who are in the program.” When kids aren't hungry they are more likely to have better concentration and able to focus on the work handed to them during school. Boomerang Backpacks does this by providing food to kids on school paid lunches over the weekend. They get two breakfasts, two lunches, and two snacks. This alleviates the parents full financial responsibility, as they only will need to provide dinner to the children.

As for the future of the Backpacks, the organization will continue to grow. “We are just trying to get more and more schools involved.” Warsaw and Wawasee just started their programs and Columbia City is thinking about joining as well. In the future there may be programs to include middle school and high school students. 

“I would say you need to get in contact with the Boomerang Backpack board. The support, time, and effort they give each new school is amazing,” Kirk said, when asked how others could get involved. To find out more information visit the Boomerang Backpacks website, where teachers or students can go for information about the program along with ways to contact the board members.