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Silicon Valley is the land of extremes. On one hand, there are companies that receive millions in venture funding, where tech employees make on average in excess of $87,000[i], and where some of the best universities in the nation are located. Yet, on the other hand, Silicon Valley is home to some areas where students are unable to obtain the necessary school supplies to have a productive and engaging school year. Living and working in the “tech bubble” of Silicon Valley, often times we forget this.

To help students in our local community start their school year off on the right track, SAP has partnered for the 6th year with Family Giving Tree for a backpack drive to gather backpacks full of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) supplies. These backpacks are filled with the standard materials like binders, pens, pencils, and erasers, but also include protractors, rulers, and calculators.

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For the past 23 years, Family Giving Tree has donated over 900,000 backpacks and gifts to students in seven Bay Area counties. This year, their goal is to give over 27,000 backpacks to the Bay Area’s neediest students. Students that receive free and reduced lunch qualify to receive these backpacks.

In the past 6 years, SAP has donated over 880 backpacks to Family Giving Tree.  In 2013 alone, we donated $12,845 which included 195 physical backpacks and online donations and our employees volunteered over 105 hours of their time.

This year, we are working to beat that number.

To highlight all the great work our employees have done during this year’s backpack drive, on July 29, we “stuffed a bus” and stopped at each of our four Bay Area campuses to collect backpacks donated by our employees.  We started our day in Palo Alto and immediately headed to Sunnyvale. From our Sunnyvale campus we trekked along I680 to Dublin and from Dublin, across the bay to South San Francisco.  Our day ended with a backpack stuffing rally at our Palo Alto office.

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At each stop we were greeted by enthusiastic employees who brought out carts overflowing with backpacks. We loaded backpacks hand over hand and started filling up the bus. By the time we made it to our Palo Alto campus for our “stuff the bus” rally, we had collected over 126 backpacks! But, our day was far from over.

After our executive sponsor, SAP’s CMO Jonathan Becher, dropped off his dinosaur backpack and met with the Family Giving Tree’s Executive Director, Jennifer Cullenbine, over ten volunteers participated in a backpack stuffing assembly line. Forty five minutes later, one hundred additional backpacks donated by SAP Bay Area were loaded into our bus and headed to the Family Giving Tree headquarters in San Jose.

At the end of the day, we had collected 226 backpacks! Our work with Family Giving Tree continues, online donations are still being accepted through September 5. Visit https://vgt.familygivingtree.org/sap/ and help Bay Area students today!

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[i] http://www.siliconbeat.com/2014/01/29/survey-silicon-valley-tops-average-tech-worker-pay-which-is-up/

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