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Anthropology Instructor and Fraternity Members Donate Gifts

Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 15:03

On March 12th, CSULA anthropology instructor Jessica Bodoh-Creed and members of CSULA's Phi Pi Alpha Fire Fraternity distributed donated items in South LA to Normandie Avenue Elementary School and its 1,100 students.

Bodoh-Creed said there are many reasons why she wanted to help “Blessings in a Backpack” in partnership with Normandie Avenue Elementary School Student and Outreach Coordinator Cassandra Robinson.

I learned about Blessings in a Backpack after reading a magazine article last December,” she said, “and I was looking for a charity to work with for the upcoming quarter.”

She added that the story about what the organization has done for elementary schools sounded great.

After speaking with representatives from “Blessings in a Backpack,” Bodoh-Creed contacted Robinson.

An estimated 498 US schools and 58,000 students are assisted, according to its website


Forty-one states, including California and three countries currently have the “Blessings in a Backpack” meal program.

It feeds impoverished students on the weekends throughout the school year.


Sponsorship for “Blessings in a Backpack” includes McMillan Publisher, Penguin Publisher, CSULA’s Phi Pi Alpha Fire Fraternity and The Slamdance Film Festival.

Consequently, she discussed it with students enrolled in her Evolutionary Perspectives of Gender and Sex and Gender Roles in Cross-Cultural Perspectives classes.


Helping Students and Their Families

Students responded through individual, family, and friend donation efforts of nonperishable food items and reading material at the start of this Winter Quarter.

A total of more than 700 books were gathered.

Toys, classroom tools and basic school supplies were also collected.

A 2011 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Education estimates 16 million children lack steady food supply, 52% of 4th graders receive free or subsidized meals and 31 million of them get free or reduced cost school lunches.

Last quarter, Bodoh-Creed said students participated in CSULA’s EPIC program where its goals, according to is to provide food and toys to low-income families during the holiday season.

She and 200 students managed to fill two large boxes.

As a part-time faculty member at CSULA since 2010, Bodoh-Creed said, “This is the first time I have engaged in a project of community service on my own.”

Support System

Robinson said after meeting with Bodoh-Creed, it’s great the elementary school students and their families are the focus.

It’s huge,” Robinson said, “because her students and the fraternity members provided a service.”

Normandie Avenue Elementary School has been partnered with “Blessings in a Backpack” since 2007, according to Robinson.

The elementary school is the only one within LAUSD to have a meal program, she added.

A group of 30 students express their graditude.

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