Linn Benton NAACP holds Zumba fundraiser for backpacks

A+backpack+is+filled+with+school+supplies+on+Aug.+1.+The+Linn+Benton+NAACP+and+Heart+of+the+Valley+Alumnae+chapter+are+hosting+a+Zumba+fundraiser+to+raise+money+for+backpacks+for+Corvallis+youth.

By Hayden Lohr, OMN Photographer

A backpack is filled with school supplies on Aug. 1. The Linn Benton NAACP and Heart of the Valley Alumnae chapter are hosting a Zumba fundraiser to raise money for backpacks for Corvallis youth.

Tarsa Weikert, Beaver's Digest Contributor

Editor’s Note: Story was updated with quotes from Angie Ruiz and Luhui Whitebear, event organizers, at 6:50 p.m. on Aug. 4. 

The Linn Benton branch of the NAACP is hosting a fundraiser for back-to-school backpacks for children with the Heart of the Valley Alumnae Chapter.

The fundraising event is an interactive Zumba class that allows community members to engage in cardio while helping those in need.

The Zumba for Backpacks fundraiser will be held on Aug. 5 at 6 p.m. in the Kaku-Ixt Mana Ina Haws on the Oregon State University campus. The address is 311 SW 26th St., Corvallis, Ore. The backpacks will be donated to youth in the Corvallis area.

The event does not require a fee to join the Zumba class but donations in the form of cash or backpacks would be appreciated. The Zumba event is one hour long and water will be provided to those working up a sweat. No skill level or experience is necessary as the event is open to everyone.

The alumnae chapter is a group of sisters that have graduated from OSU and the University of Oregon. OSU sorority Gamma Alpha Omega will help coordinate details for the event.

Angie Ruiz, president of the alumnae chapter, graduated from OSU in 2009 with a degree in exercise sports. Ruiz works as a dental office manager and spends her free time volunteering with the group for various events.

Heart of the Valley reached out to NAACP to ask about collaborating in the future after helping out at a 5K event put on by the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence.

“Unfortunately there is an abundance of families that can’t afford student supplies and if we can provide even a small amount of help/relief for local families then we will try to do what we can,” Ruiz said. “Last year the need for backpacks was greater than what we expected so there was no question that we needed to do this event again!”

Luhui Whitebear, assistant professor in the School of Language, Culture and Society is programming chair for the alumnae group, as well as center director for the Kaku-Ixt Ina Haws since fall 2013. 

We collectively decided to do a backpack drive to help families out with back-to-school supplies. Since the school provides supplies now, we decided to just focus on backpacks,” Whitebear said.

The first Zumba for Backpacks event occurred last year and was successful enough for the group to host the event annually. 

“Youth need backpacks for school for a variety of reasons. Some families cannot afford them and we wanted to help alleviate some of their back-to-school needs,” Whitebear said.

As a single parent who has kids in the local schools, Whitebear said she understands the struggle of getting youth ready for school each fall with limited resources. 

“We wanted to make sure we provide something that youth need and will use, and also backpacks that will last the year,” Whitebear said. “I hope families know that they are not alone if they need help and that we are happy to help in this small way.”

 If community members have questions or want to donate to the cause without attending the event, they can email the sorority at [email protected]

“What kids don’t love a brand new backpack for the school year!” Ruiz said.