Companies donate hundreds of backpacks to school

Aug. 8, 2019 

Copperfield Elementary Community Walk:

Aug. 8 at 5:30 p.m.

Dell, Nordstrom, T-Mobile and other corporate giants have banded together for the students of Copperfield Elementary, due to the efforts of one elementary school teacher.
Companies near and far donated new backpacks to Copperfield in droves this year, after bilingual education teacher Margaret Olivarez set out to gather a few for her students. A total of 822 backpacks have been donated by corporations this year, more than enough for not only each of her students but for each child enrolled at the school.
“I didn’t think we would get this kind of attention,” Olivarez said. “I was a little overwhelmed.”
Olivarez started off with “just a simple email,” sent to various CEOs during her summer break. It didn’t take long for the responses to start rolling in.
“I started at the very top,” Olivarez noted with a smile.
Nordstrom co-president Erik Nordstrom became her favorite, taking the time to respond directly, before contributing $200 toward the cause. An email to Ross executive Matt Young was met with a response from a local district manager a few days later.
HP sent out a press release, noting her email to company CEO Dion Weisler “went through a whirlwind” before reaching HP Austin offices. Working close to the upcoming school start date, HP employees set out to support an entire Copperfield grade level, and did so in overwhelming fashion – taking only a week to gather donations of 104 new backpacks and stuffing school supplies in each one.
Dell supplied the largest amount of donations, 230, and employees set aside time Tuesday to stuff them with supplies and letters of encouragement, before delivering them in their own vehicles to the school.
Cell phone competitors Sprint and T-Mobile sent in backpacks with company logos emblazoned upon them. Geico was the most recent company to give, but Olivarez noted she’s received donations from unnamed donors as well from nearby Our Savior Lutheran Church, which has donated backpacks in the past.
Olivarez was inspired to take on the backpack drive this year after finding success in collecting T-shirts for her students last year. Seeing that none of the students in her classroom had college-oriented shirts for the school’s weekly College Shirt Day, she emailed various colleges for a few shirts.
She received more than 400 shirts from the U.S. Air Force Academy alone, and donations continue to come in. Every Copperfield student received a college shirt last school year, and Olivarez expects to provide the entire student body with a shirt and backpack by the first day of school.
Thursday, campus administrators and teachers will visit student residences during the annual Copperfield Community Walk, starting at 5:30 p.m. This year, they will distribute backpacks to the students during the event thanks to the efforts of Olivarez.
Copperfield serves a school zone in northeast Austin, in the southernmost portion of PfISD. According to the school’s 2018-19 improvement plan, 71 percent of the campus student body was classified as economically disadvantaged. Copperfield is expected to include an enrollment of approximately 530 students this school year.