Service Club Helping Displaced Kids


Helping to ease, in a small way, the trauma of children removed from their homes due to domestic violence is the aim of a St. Louis organization, Project Backpack. During April, Maryville University’s Community Service Club is assisting Project Backpack by collecting donated items from faculty, staff and students that would fit in a backpack.

Six collection tubs are located around campus, including the Donius University Center, dining hall and inside the lower level entrance to Gander Hall, closest to the quadrangle, said Steve DiSalvo, Maryville’s director of campus ministry and community service. The deadline to donate items is April 30, DiSalvo said. Items can include school supplies, toiletries, diapers and clothes. A complete list of suggested items can be found at

DiSalvo said Community Service Club members decided at the beginning of the spring semester that they wanted to focus on efforts that would help children. “They went through my database of organizations and thought that Project Backpack would be a worthwhile endeavor,” he remarked. Started in October1999, Project Backpack is an all-volunteer organization that fills and distributes as many as 250 backpacks each month to area police stations and social service agencies. The organization serves children ranging from infants to 18-year-olds.

DiSalvo said Community Service Club members have not set a goal in terms of items collected. He did note that a similar project conducted earlier this semester for Lydia’s House, an agency that serves women who have been abused, and their children, garnered items worth a total of $535. “But we’re always glad for every donation that we get,” he said.

Nearing the end of his first year on the job, DiSalvo said he has learned the importance of choosing activities that are student-centered. “I’ve been trying to let them (students) lead the way in terms of choosing and planning activities,” he commented. “When it comes from the students, they feel more of a sense of ownership and it inspires participation from more of them.”

For more information on Project Backpack, call DiSalvo at 314-529-9521 or e-mail