CHICAGO – Office Depot and the Office Depot Foundation have announced that Tony Stewart will join the Foundation on Thursday, July 8 to donate 4,200 backpacks to non-profit organizations and schools in the Chicagoland area. This special event marks the start of the back-to-school season with Stewart hosting the country’s first backpack donation event on behalf of the Office Depot Foundation.
The backpack donations will be made during a special “Back-to-School Backpack Celebration” event beginning at 4 p.m. local time at the Office Depot store located at 2928 North Ashland Ave. in Chicago. In addition to Stewart, special guests scheduled to attend include Maya Ashwal, special assistant to U.S. Senator Roland W. Burris; Illinois State Rep. John Fritchey (D-11); Chicago Alderman Scott Waguespack (Ward 32); and Mae Wilson, chief of staff, and Deborah Mister, aldermanic assistant, representing Alderman Toni Preckwinkle (Ward 4).
This year, the Office Depot Foundation is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its National Backpack Program. Since the program began in 2001, Office Depot and the Office Depot Foundation have donated approximately 2.3 million backpacks to children in need.
“The Foundation is tremendously excited to offer this award-winning program for the 10th consecutive year,” said Mary Wong, president of the Office Depot Foundation. “Every year, we have seen our backpacks bring hope to children whose families might not be able to afford to buy them a new backpack. Parents and teachers alike tell us that we truly are helping children to build self-confidence, boost self-esteem and achieve greater success in the classroom — all as a result of being properly prepared for school.”
Stewart, who joined the Office Depot team in 2009 when the company became his co-primary sponsor in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, will partner with the Office Depot Foundation for the second year in a row and help the organization donate more than 300,000 backpacks throughout the 2010 back-to-school season. The Chicago “Back-to-School Backpack Celebration” event is the first of five events that Stewart is scheduled to host across the country this year.
“I am so proud to partner with the Office Depot Foundation again this year and distribute new backpacks to so many kids in need across the country,” Stewart said. “This is a big year for the Office Depot Foundation because it is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its National Backpack Program, and I can tell you from experience how rewarding it is to see the look on these kids’ faces when they get a new backpack — it’s an automatic boost of confidence for them and helps them feel ready to take on the new school year just like everybody else.”
Additionally, Stewart’s No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevy Impala will feature a special back-to-school paint scheme during Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Lifelock.com 400 race at Chicagoland Speedway (Saturday, July 10, 7:30 p.m. EDT, TNT). The colorful paint scheme will feature images of many essential school supplies that kids need in the classroom, including pens, markers, highlighters, erasers, glue, notebooks and more.
“It’s always fun to switch up the look on our No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevy,” Stewart said. “The back-to-school paint scheme is a fun way to remind parents that they can pick up all of their children’s school supplies at any Office Depot store.”
The non-profit organizations and schools selected to participate in the July 8 backpack donation event include:
- Chicago Public Schools
- Casa Central
- HOPE worldwide Chicago, a partner agency of Communities In Schools Chicago
- Chicago Youth Programs
- PUSH for Excellence
- Jane Addams Hull House Association
- Jewish Child & Family Services
- Latino Organization of the Southwest
- Speedway Children’s Charities
Chicago-area recipients of Office Depot Foundation backpacks in previous years readily offer evidence of the program’s importance. “When we hand the book bags over to the children the smiles and expressions that come across their faces are priceless,” says Monique Cook-Bey, Chicago Youth Programs’ Washington Park director. “There is a new sense of pride because they no longer have to tote their school work in a grocery bag or hold it in their hand. They walk around as if they have just received the golden ticket — and all we did was show them that someone does care about the condition of their school supplies and here is something to help.”
To distribute the backpacks in 2010, the Foundation will host 25 “Back-to-School Backpack Celebrations” in cities across the U.S. and Canada — five of which will include Tony Stewart. Thousands of backpacks also are being donated by Office Depot stores in hundreds of local communities and in collaboration with Office Depot’s Business Solutions Division in select cities.
Thousands more backpacks will be given to children through the Office Depot Foundation’s partnerships with a number of national non-profit organizations — including the Tony Stewart Foundation, the National Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Association, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), Feed The Children, the Kids In Need Foundation, Nourish America, Zach Bonner’s Little Red Wagon Foundation and the National Foundation for Women Legislators, whose members once again will donate backpacks in all 50 states. For the third consecutive year, backpack donations will be made to children of the Navajo Nation in Arizona and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.
About the Office Depot Foundation
The Office Depot Foundation is an independent foundation (tax exempt under IRC Sec. 501(c)(3)) that serves as the independent charitable giving arm of Office Depot, Inc. In keeping with its mission, Listen Learn Care(R), the Foundation supports a variety of programs that help children succeed in school and in life; enable civil society (non-profit) organizations to become more efficient and effective; help people and businesses prepare for disasters, then recover and rebuild afterwards; strengthen local communities through grants, product donations and volunteerism; and encourage community development through entrepreneurship and economic innovation. For more information, visit www.officedepotfoundation.org.