Phil the Need looks to fill 500 backpacks

Monday, July 9, 2018

If she stops and thinks about the numbers, Ruth Myers can get a little discouraged at the task in front of her.

The Phil the Need president is currently pouring her energy into the Tools for School program, which has set out to fill 500 backpacks for Putnam County students with the necessary school supplies and a new pair of tennis shoes for the coming year.

“When you multiply 500 pairs of shoes, I’m kind of overwhelmed at what the cost is,” Myers said.

So instead of thinking of the 200-250 backpacks that still need to be distributed and filled, Myers is looking for help with the effort in smaller chunks.

“I’m really looking for organizations that can do 10 to 20 of them and split them out,” Myers said, saying she is looking for churches, lodges and service organizations to help with the effort in the coming weeks. “It’s going to be costly. I’ve got to get people to sponsor that.”

The effort started back in April when Phil the Need — a 501C3 group Myers founded to assist the disadvantaged and homeless of Putnam County — sent to schools looking for applicants among those students who qualify for free lunches.

Of more than 2,200 students, 500 applied through their schools and were eventually chosen to be part of the program. The students come from every public school building in the county and range from pre-K to high school seniors.

Phil the Need has already purchased the backpacks, with a student anonymously assigned to each one.

Each backpack comes identifying only the student’s gender, school, grade level and shoe size.

The shopping list is then based on this information plus the class supply list available from the schools or at Greencastle Walmart.

Anyone interested in filling one backpack or dozens is encouraged to contact Phil the Need at 765-655-6301 or

Those who would like to take part without physically filling a backpack may make monetary donations. Checks should be made out to Phil the Need, memo line Tools for School and mailed to PO Box 251, Greencastle, IN 46135.

Phil the Need has shoppers who will take these donations and buy supplies to fill some of the backpacks.

“The monetary donations — that’s definitely helpful if they don’t want to fill a backpack,” Myers said.

Meanwhile, Myers is thankful for the community support the effort has already received, with 50 to 60 percent of the backpacks already distributed.

“A lot of churches are coming on board,” she noted.

Time is of the essence, though, as the start of school is just around the corner at the first of August.

“By Aug. 1 we have to have all this done and in the people’s hands,” Myers said. “Within the next couple of weeks, we’re trying to get the rest of them filled.”

Once the backpacks are filled, they will be distributed by school corporation. The North Putnam and South Putnam backpacks will be given out at the individual school buildings during registration.

Meanwhile, the Cloverdale and Greencastle distributions will take place at Soul Harvest Church and Greencastle Christian Church, respectively.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: