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Issue Date: Vol. 47, No. 9, September 2007, Posted On: 9/16/2007

Hugs Not Drugs Vend Drive Aids Needy School Children

Larisa Jayne Shewczyk

LAKE WORTH, FL (September 2007) — Hugs Not Drugs, a charitable organization managed by south Florida’s Family Life International, announced plans for the national rollout of its Vending Backpack Giveaway Program. The program aims to donate backpacks filled with school supplies such as pencils, scissors and notebooks to underprivileged elementary school children whose families cannot afford such items.

Participating vendors will work within their communities, using resources and support provided by Hugs Not Drugs, to solicit contributions from organizations, religious groups and merchants to fund the backpacks, each costing between $8 and $12. Vendors will also contact local schools to obtain lists recommending recipients of the donations.

As an added benefit to donors, Hugs Not Drugs will work with local media outlets to publicize the program and supporting participants.

According to Ruth Harris, founder and executive director of Family Life International, a local version of the program has been in place in south Florida for the past five years. Thousands of backpacks filled with needed supplies have been distributed to children in need during this time, she said, which encouraged the organization to launch the program on a national level.

Corresponding with the Backpack Giveaway Program is the Hugs Not Drugs Poster Contest. Recipients of the donated backpacks are required to design a poster for the program in order to “claim” their pack, though all children from participating schools are encouraged to enter the contest as well.

Vendors who wish to participate in the program should contact Family Life International at (800) 700-6697; forms and letters explaining the backpack initiative are online at hugsnotdrugs.com.

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