PULLMAN, Wash. — A keystone Washington State University event in Seattle to assist those suffering as a result of Hurricane Katrina resulted in some 3,000 “Backpacks for Hope” collected and $12,000 donated. Although happy, event organizers say more backpacks with contents are needed.

The collection and donations were made as part of the Grambling State University-WSU football game held Saturday, Sept. 17, at Qwest Field in Seattle.

Fifty WSU student volunteers collected the $12,000 donated at the game to Grambling’s “Operation Good Samaritan.” The funds will be used for a variety of purposes, including assisting Grambling students from the New Orleans area and helping other universities which have taken in students displaced by the hurricane.


“Backpacks for Hope” is a WSU partnership with former Cougar football player Steve Gleason, a NFL player for the New Orleans Saints, and his mother, Gail Gleason, a WSU College of Education doctoral student and graduate assistant. Through the partnership, backpacks filled with school supplies are being collected to aid some of the estimated 250,000 children displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

The “Backpacks” effort continues. WSU Community Service Learning Center staff will be collecting backpacks with contents at the Compton Union Building‘s Redwood Bench (near the CUB information desk) from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Sept. 23 and 30 and Oct. 7.

In addition, backpacks and contents will be collected at the Stanford-WSU football game Oct.8 in the university’s Martin Stadium.

To participate in “Backpacks for Hope,” identify the grade level of student you wish to help. Buy a grade-level appropriate backpack and write the grade on a piece of tape affixed to the outside of the backpack. Into the backpack put:

  • School supplies, including notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons, colored pencils, markers, rulers, scissors and glue.
  • A children’s book, appropriate for the age of the child.
  • A stuffed animal for the child.
  • A journal or notebook for the child to write down their personal story of how the hurricane has affected their life.

Backpacks with contents will be delivered to San Antonio, where they will be delivered to children by Saints players and staff and provided to various relief groups working in the area.

Gail Gleason said in addition to backpacks with contents donated in Seattle, children’s books valued at about $2,000, about $500 in school supplies and $300 in stuffed animals were donated separately. “This was great because we could use those items to fill in backpacks that didn’t include some of those items,” she said. In addition, those collecting backpacks received $1,795 in checks and $160 in cash.

At Qwest Field, “Our volunteers were great. They sorted and boxed backpacks with contents and other items and put the boxes onto trucks before the first quarter of the game in Seattle ended,” Gleason said. “We heard from people who are putting together drives at their schools and businesses. They plan to bring their backpacks with contents to the Stanford game. We hope others will do the same.”