Campus News

Student org collects backpacks for Dane County homeless community

The Student Occupational Therapy Association has set up bag-collection bins in the Morgridge Center, Smith Hall, Union South, the Natatorium and the SHELL.

Image By: Lawrence Andrea

If you have a spare backpack, a UW-Madison student organization in the Department of Kinesiology may be interested in it.

The Student Occupational Therapy Association has set up collection bins across the UW-Madison campus in an effort to collect bags like backpacks, athletic bags and suitcases to give to homeless individuals and families across the Dane County community.

The group — comprised of graduate students in the Occupational Therapy Program — set up bag drop-off locations in the Morgridge Center, Smith Hall, Union South, the Natatorium and the SHELL. When the initiative ends April 13, the group will donate the bags to the Bethel Lutheran Church’s Homeless Support Services, who will then distribute the bags to those in need.

According to graduate student Molly Pugh, the initiative is relevant to the occupational therapy field because it is an area of study that “really looks to better promote the health and wellness of anyone really in the community of diverse populations and of diverse backgrounds.”

Pugh said each drop-off location also has handouts that feature backpack safety tips. Physical health and injury prevention are another part of occupational therapy, and Pugh emphasized that backpacks should not be too heavy and should have wide, padded straps to take weight off a person’s back.

People who drop off a new backpack are encouraged to take a handout.

“It is kind of a rule that your backpack is not supposed to weigh more than 15 percent of your total body weight, which I don’t think a lot of people know about,” Pugh said.

While this is the first time in about four years that organization is holding this initiative, Pugh said it is important to both acknowledge and help others in the community.

“It is important to be aware of other types of populations that are within the community that could benefit from anything that we can give back,” she said. “The homeless community is large within Madison, and I always think it is a good thing to look out for populations who might be in a [less fortunate] situation than what you might have.”

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