Bottles for Backpacks (by Abbie Woginrich)


booksAs a community an volunteer project, I have been involved with a program through my high school for over 5 years. It started as a senior project of a teammate and I have continued it even as a college student. The program collects bottles and cans after home sporting events and turns them in for money, which is then used to purchase school supplies. I wait for sales to buy the supplies to get the most for the money I have. The supplies are then used to fill backpacks and taken to a local elementary classroom that needs them. Usually there are around 25-30 backpacks filled for the classroom. This program is an all year program that is all worth it in the end when you get to see the smiles on the faces of so many kids when they get their own set of markers. The road to the end goal is messy and gross sometimes, but when you get there all you see are smiles for the kids and the teachers.

For this blog post I have decided to create a research question that is a pressing question in society, but also connects directly to my community project. I have stated the research question below with an explanation as to why this question.

Research Question: Is there a significant connection between children from low-income families, starting in elementary school, and the eventual high school drop out rate?

For part this blog post I have chosen to research the question above as well as other factors that high school dropout rates influenced like the economy. I feel this question relates directly to my community project because the kids that I donate the school supplies to don’t have the money to buy them themselves and I want to research this question to see if low-income families have an effect on dropout rates. I researched and found many useful resources and have outlined and shown the best 5 of the 6 sources I had found. I then used 3 of the 5 sources below and crafted a letter to the superintendent of the school district I live in about the effects of high school dropouts not only on the children themselves, but also the harmful effects it is having on the nation.

  1. Harding, David J., Geoffrey T. Wodtke, and Felix Elwert. “An Application to Neighborhood Effects on High School Graduation.” Estimating the Effects of Time- Varying Treatments in the Presence of Time-varying Confounding (2013): 56. 22 Mar. 2013. Web. 9 Aug. 2014.

I liked this source and found it helpful as a general fact source to show how large of a high school dropout rate there is in low-income families specifically. Although I did not use this in my letter, it was helpful as a base to build on with the dropout rates explicitly in front of me. 

  1. Koebler, Jason. “Study: Reducing Dropout Rate Would Pump Billions Into Economy.” US News. U.S.News & World Report, 4 Apr. 2011. Web. 09 Aug. 2014.

I liked and used this source in my letter to show how the high school dropout rate can affect everyone, not just the high school dropout themselves. This statistics was very shocking to me and I feel it was a very persuasive source to use in my letter.

  1. Lynch, Matthew, Ed.D. “High School Dropout Rate: Causes and Costs.” The Huffington Post., 02 June 2014. Web. 09 Aug. 2014.

This is another source I used in my letter as a general fact to be stated and to show the difference in high school dropout rates of a child from a low-income family to a child in a medium-income family and a child in a high-income family. The statistics are actually amazing because it shows how much of a difference there is based on the financial situation the family is in. Getting an education should not depend on the financial situation your family is in and your parent’s financial situation shouldn’t cause you to drop out of school or feel you have to help keep the family alive by working instead of getting a free education through high school.

  1. Monrad, Maggie. “High School Drop Out: A Quick Stats Fact Sheet.” National High School Center at AIR (2007): n. pag. Sept. 2007. Web. 9 Aug. 2014.

I used this source because I thought this statistic would be an attention grabber to any reader. A student dropping out of high school every 9 seconds is a very shocking and very sad fact. It is a good hook and that is exactly what I used it for in my letter. It is the very first statement you see.

  1. Reynolds, Temple, Robertson, and Mann. “Long-term Effects of an Early Childhood Intervention on Educational Achievement and Juvenile Arrest: A 15-year Follow-up of Low-income Children in Public Schools.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 9 May 2001. Web. 09 Aug. 2014.

I liked this source because it shows that there have been attempts to help lower the rate of high school dropouts. Although this source and study showed that it did help lower the rate, the rate of dropouts is still very high and that any attempt to help lower this rate should be tried because there hasn’t been a perfect way found to lower this rate and maybe something so simple as supplying kids with school supplies and making them feel important and successful will help the situation.

Part II: The Public Writing

The second part of this blog contains a piece of public writing. I decided to write a letter to the district superintendent about my community project and how it links to a bigger problem in, not only the district, but also the US. I wrote this letter in hopes of being able to get the program I am involved in to be more known in the community while also hoping to gain support throughout the community. The letter I have written is shown below.

Dear Superintendent Dr. Kym LeBlanc-Esparza:

 “Based on calculations per school day (180 days of school, seven hours each day), one high school student drops out every nine seconds.” (Monrad). There are many factors that have been linked to the high school dropout rate with the main factor being the financial situation of the parents. According to an article in the Huffington Post, “Students from low-income families are 2.4 times more likely to drop out than middle-income kids, and over 10 times more likely than high-income peers to drop out.” (Lynch).

As a gradate from Newberg High school and involved in continuous community service to the district, I have seen the effects of children from a low-income family; some of which lead to poor educational involvement as well as high, high school dropout rates. Although an alternative school is functioning and a very valuable tool to a lot of high school students, I believe there is still more we can do to lower the need for the alternative school as well as the high school dropout rate statistics I have laid out above.

Not only is the drop out rate at a high number, there are other things besides the education of the child that is being affected. The effects of high school dropouts could be costing the nation billions of dollars. High school dropouts earn less money, pay fewer taxes, and spend less of the money they earn than those who have received at least a high school diploma. (Koebler). “The study estimates that if half of the 1.3 million students who dropped out from the class of 2010 had graduated, those students would earn about $7.6 billion more annually compared to their likely earnings without a high school diploma. The additional spending would generate about 54,000 additional jobs and would add approximately $713 million annually in state tax revenues.” (Koebler).

These facts are very alarming to me and are the reason I chose and choose to continue my project for the district. The project I am involved in started as a senior project of a teammate of mine, and grew into a project that I continue even as a college student. This project starts every football season and doesn’t end until the following school year. Starting at the first home football game, myself, a few of my basketball and track teammates, and our athletic trainer clean the grandstands while also collecting bottles and cans from the stands, trashcans and anywhere around the field. This is done after every home sporting event. At the end of every school year all the bottles and cans are turned in for money and then that money is used to purchase school supplies that we fill backpacks with for classrooms at an elementary school that has children in need of school supplies.

Participating in this project has a very uplifting effect. Knowing that children who come from a low-income family and might not have their own pencil is very sad, but because of the program I am involved in, those kids now have their own pencil and even their own set of markers. Knowing that you helped a child feel important and that you gave that child the opportunity to become successful is an indescribable feeling. I feel the little things in a child’s life will help keep them on the right track through their education and help limit this large rate of high school dropouts.

The purpose of this program is only known by the people who participate in it and by the teachers who are the recipients of the outcome of this project. For this project to be able to grow and help more students and classrooms I feel the purpose of the project needs to be known throughout the district. An announcement on the school district website would be an easy way of doing this. Currently there are about three giant coke bottles in the high school gym that are for plastic and can recyclables. Investing in a more of these containers would greatly help get the word out to the district by being able to have one at the base of each section of the bleachers inside as well as outside by the football field and other school gyms.

In conclusion, the high school dropout rate is at a high number seen by the facts I have presented. Projects like the one I am involved in can greatly help this statistic. Announcing this project on the district website as well as investing in more coke bottle containers are small ways that can help reduce this rate and in effect help boost the economy with a more educated population.



  • Koebler, Jason. “Study: Reducing Dropout Rate Would Pump Billions Into Economy.” US News. U.S.News & World Report, 4 Apr. 2011. Web. 09 Aug. 2014.
  • Lynch, Matthew, Ed.D. “High School Dropout Rate: Causes and Costs.” The Huffington Post., 02 June 2014. Web. 09 Aug. 2014.
  • Monrad, Maggie. “High School Drop Out: A Quick Stats Fact Sheet.” National High School Center at AIR (2007): n. pag. Sept. 2007. Web. 9 Aug. 2014.





  1. Juleah Wheeler

    I think that it is vary awesome you took your own time and money to help supply children in need with school supplies. Education is most important in life and some kids don’t get the chance to further their education. What made you want to start this project? Do you have plans to further expand this project? If so what are some ideas you have had? This is something that would be very effective in my neighborhood cause we have a lot of needy families in the area. At my youth center we try to supply notebooks and such things but we run a pretty low budget ourselves. I like how you made a connection with low income families starting elementary school to high school drop outs, it made a lot of sense. My Youth Center works with high school drops out so I personally know a lot about the connection, also living through it myself. Great post!

  2. Itay Lerner

    Abbie, your writing project was so informative and alarming! I was very aware of the current national problem regarding high-school drop-out rates but I had no idea of the lasting consequences on the national community. I think that the program that you are involved in is really great and it sounds like you guys are really doing some great things, keep it up! I really believe and hope that the superintendent will read your letter and comply with your requests, you made a well-spoken and convincing argument.
    If I had any advice to give I would say to work on your voice and fluency. Things got a bit wordy in a couple parts throughout the letter and the conclusion sounded like a list of bullets rather than a summary and reiteration of your message. Aside from that, you had a really great letter. It was informative and persuasive and I really hope you continue what you are doing! There really must be a change soon. Thanks!

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