How an association’s meeting-goers do good in their downtime through Blessings in a Backpack.
Since RIMS—The Risk Management Society was the first to host a meeting in post-Katrina New Orleans in 2007, a community service day has been part of its Annual Conference & Exhibition. In 2016, for the second consecutive year, RIMS’ staff and meeting attendees helped Blessings in a Backpack, a nonprofit that gives elementary school children who participate in the free and reduced-price meal program a backpack of food for the 38 school-year weekends.
“We wanted to explore ways of adding community service to the exhibit hall, and Blessings in a Backpack was the perfect fit for us,” says Stuart Ruff-Lyon, vice president of events and education. “You didn’t have to get your hands too dirty; you could go through the line in your three-button suit and still make a difference.”
Set up like an assembly line, the project let attendees stop in on their own schedule to pack the backpacks with basic food items like granola bars, juice boxes, mac and cheese, and oatmeal.
“It was an easy thing to set up with our vendors and with our sponsors for people to come and build a few backpacks while they were in between appointments or in between educational sessions,” Ruff-Lyon says.
Participants filled 750 backpacks this year, but supplies ran out quickly. Ruff-Lyon said RIMS will bring back Blessings in a Backpack in 2017, with double the supplies.