ITS v. HITS Backpack Challenge has its winner: the kids!

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    Andy Palms (ITS) and Lyn Victorio (HITS) hard at work stuffing backpacks. (Amy Peters, ITS)

A friendly challenge ITS issued to HITS this summer became a huge win for local school children! The goal was donate 100 backpacks filled with school supplies. The challenge results far exceeded the goal, resulting in 160 fully loaded backpacks for local grade and middle school students.

HITS had an amazing first year with the Backpack Challenge, surpassing ITS in both the number of items donated and cash donations. However, the REAL winners of the challenge are the children and families served by the two organizations they supported:

Packs were assembled by ITS and HITS staff and leaders on Friday, August 10, and delivered to both organizations for distribution. The final tally for items and cash:

  • ITS donated 3,110 individual school supply items and $810 in cash donations.
  • HITS donated 4,281 individual school supply items and $1045 in cash donations.
  • For a total of 7,391 individual items and $1855 in cash donations!

“The challenge started in 2016, when former ITS Infrastructure staff member Jo Ella Coles retired,” explains Amy Peters (ITS), one of the event organizers. “Jo Ella didn’t want a retirement gift, but instead invited her colleagues to donate school supplies to her favorite charity, Journey of Faith.” The team built 25 fully stocked backpacks as a gift.

In 2017, Infrastructure expanded the project to all of ITS, and stuffed 40 backpacks for Journey of Faith. This year, with the addition of the HITS team and higher goals, the challenge organizers decided to also donate packs to Peace Neighborhood Center.

“This was a great event,” says Sue Boucher (HITS). “We had fun working with ITS, and we were proud of each department for their generosity that will benefit so many.”

Thanks to the many staff members who donated items or funds, the ITS and HITS leadership teams, and Interim VP/CIO Andrew Rosenberg for their support of the friendly competition! Special thanks and kudos to Amy Peters and Linda McGuire (ITS), and Sue Boucher and Lyn Victorio (HITS) for their coordination of the event and some masterful shopping to maximize the number of backpacks the groups could donate.

Author: Eric Levitt, HITS Marketing & Communications

Eric is an intern with HITS Marketing & Communications who is studying Advertising and Promotion at the Haworth College of Business at Western Michigan University. You can reach him at