So, good afternoon everyone, my name is Cindy Speaker and I have with me today, attorney David Daggett of Daggett Shuler Law. Daggett Shuler Law is known throughout the community for the many programs that they do for the community, and one we’re gonna talk about today, is the Back-To-School Backpack Program. David welcome.

David Daggett:  Thank you, thank you for having me Cindy, happy Friday to you.

Cindy Speaker:   You too, you too.

David Daggett: Hey, I don’t have my jacket on, it’s 90 degrees and humid here in North Carolina, so, yeah, it’s hot and humid.

Cindy Speaker:  Oh wow, it’s pretty hot and humid here in Philadelphia, but not quite that bad, so that’s good. But, I see that you have one of our backpacks behind you.

David Daggett:  Yeah, that’s got a backpack sitting here on my desk. We are, we’re getting ready for our annual Back-To-School Backpack Campaign, which is super exciting.

David Daggett:  It’s a … go ahead, I’m sorry?

Cindy Speaker:   No, I was just gonna ask you, how did that all get started, because I think you’ve been doing it for a while.

David Daggett:  Yeah, this will be our third year-

Cindy Speaker:  Okay.

David Daggett:   … and we’re doing in conjunction with the Winston-Salem Police Department, and this grew out of a friendship I have with Chief Barry Rountree, of our local police department, who we’ve been friends with and have done public together over the years.

It’s interesting, our police department here has really done a pretty good, proactive job with community relations in order to try to head off problems what we’ve seen in other communities. Chief Rountree wanted to do a Back-To-School Backpack Program, and of course, anything dealing with youth is right up our alley too.

So, we got together and devised a plan, of course, we wanted to do things, you know, the right way and as good as possible, so, we put together a plan where, there are all sorts of different plans of giving out backpacks and giving out supplies, and those sort of things. We encourage them all, because the need is great. Our poverty rate in this area is quite high, and, so, the needs for those students is really pretty large.

Cindy Speaker:  Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David Daggett:  One of the things, that’s also very interesting, is that very first day of school, and the start of the school year can be very defining for a young person’s life. If they start out on the right foot, they can start taking those steps up and create a very, very positive, life for themselves. A very, very positive future, but on the flip side, if they start off handicapped, it gets harder and harder and harder. And a lot of that is emotional for these young people.

You know, these young kids, they all come to school the first day, with a great big smile on their face and they’re ready to go, and, you know, these, particularly the elementary school kids. But, when they get there, and there’s an obvious divide between the haves and the have nots, particularly with just the basic necessities, to get started in school. It’s a real handicap, which gets them going downhill.

Cindy Speaker:  Yeah.

David Daggett:   That’s a long winded way of saying we try to get them on an equal footing for the start, so, what we’ve done with the backpacks, and can I grab it and try to show it?

Cindy Speaker:  Absolutely.

David Daggett:  Well, we’ve got seven, we have very high quality backpacks, okay, we got backpacks that are completely unlogoed, okay?

Cindy Speaker:  Okay.

David Daggett:  There’s no logo on them whatsoever, that’s intentional, because there’s no way to identify the backpacks, so, they’re not Nike, they’re not Daggett Shuler, they’re … so, and then we got seven different colors, so that the underprivileged kids that get the backpacks, they don’t get stigmatized that they’re a kid with a free backpack, because, they’re unmarked-

Cindy Speaker:   Wow.

David Daggett:  … and there’s a whole variety of them. We did that intentionally, which is a good thing. They’re actually very, very sturdy, they’re ergonomical, I’ll confess, I did give one to my wife, and she loves it and uses it.

But, for the Back-To-School Backpacks what we then did, and maybe I have to take things out here, but what we did is, we stuffed them with everything that’s on the school systems list-

Cindy Speaker:  Oh.

David Daggett:  … for items to go back. So, just as I reach in here, you know, your pink eraser, scissors, good quality scissors, pencils, crayons, can you see this?

Cindy Speaker:   I can, that’s great.

David Daggett:  Notebook paper, little spiral notebook, pocket folder, this one has two pencil sharpeners in it-

Cindy Speaker:   Fantastic.

David Daggett:   … glue stick, and, so, it’s completely filled with all those things, the nice thing is, is this everything that the school system has on their recommended list, for students to have to get started in the school year. Well, when they get a backpack with everything in it and are ready to go, it makes those youngsters feel like they’re on an equal footing with all the other students in the school. So, that’s-

Cindy Speaker:   That is great, yeah.

David Daggett:  … yeah, so that’s really good, it’s very, very fulfilling for us, because we know the difference it makes and we’ve seen it. You know, a lot of our employees, they have youngsters that are in school with underprivileged kids, and they know that the difference that we’re making. So, it’s kind of a project that we’ve had, you know, a lot of buy in-

Cindy Speaker:   Oh, I bet.

David Daggett:  … from our staff and our employees.

Cindy Speaker:   Yeah.

David Daggett:  The other thing that we do, and this is kind of interesting, Chief Rountree, Griff Shuler and I, along with, oh, they’re the safest backpacks in town, because we take a whole caravan full of backpacks with police cruisers, the police van, the police pick up truck and we drive in, in front of the schools.

We actually do this, this is another interesting … it seemed counterintuitive to start, but, you’ll understand the reasoning, … school starts, so there’s no students there.

Cindy Speaker:   Okay.

David Daggett:  The Chief … I mean, I think it’s incredible, the Chief of Police, himself, comes to help us deliver-

Cindy Speaker:   That’s fantastic.

David Daggett:  … these backpacks. But what we do, is we go to the schools and drop off the backpacks and we talk to the guidance counselors who are so grateful, they’re about to bust.

Cindy Speaker: Oh.

David Daggett:   And what happens is the guidance counselors know how to identify, on the first day of school, the students in need, and get the backpacks to them.

Again, if we came into the school, once school was in session with this entourage of police officers and everything else, and give the backpacks directly to the kids, there’s a stigma attached to that.

Cindy Speaker:    Yeah.

David Daggett:   So, we remove every form of stigma that we can, but, you know, our teachers and our administrators, particularly the ones working with underprivileged kids, they’re under a lot of pressure, and it’s always, they’re always in the situation of having to do more with less.

Cindy Speaker:  Yeah.

David Daggett:  You know, and then the next year, you gotta do more, more with less. So, it means an awful lot to them, you know, to have us come barging into their school, but to bring these police officers, who are good as gold, the Chief of Police actually there, greeting these counselors and the, you know, teachers that are there, getting their class … means the world to them, that the Chief of Police would come himself-

Cindy Speaker:  Oh, I bet, yeah.

David Daggett:   … to see them. It creates an environment of encouragement and support-

Cindy Speaker:   Yeah.

David Daggett:  … for our teachers and administrators that deal with the underprivileged students, and it really gets their year started off much better, and they really look forward it, you know, the next year.

They now know, after a few years of doing this, that when we come rolling in with a bunch of police cars, there’s not a problem, it’s a good thing.

Cindy Speaker:   That is great, David.

David Daggett:  Yeah, it’s good.

Cindy Speaker:  It’s fantastic.

David Daggett:   You know, you can’t, as much as I think we try, we can’t save the whole world, so what we do, is we target five elementary schools … another really interesting thing, and I, again, for folks that aren’t involved, would find this counterintuitive, is, all of our schools in our area are very diverse. Not just with race, but socioeconomics-

Cindy Speaker:   Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David Daggett:    … and those sort of things. Well, what’s interesting is, research shows, the pocket of poor kids, in a school, in a wealthier neighborhood, actually get off to a worse start, than the poor kids in the poor schools, because they’re separated out.

Cindy Speaker:   Yeah. Yeah.

David Daggett:   So, what, particularly the pocket of underprivileged in what you would think is a nicer neighborhood, actually makes a bigger difference, because they’re going to school with the “wealthy” kids.

Cindy Speaker:    Yeah.

David Daggett:   Without this sort of program, they’re on an unequal footing.

Cindy Speaker:  Yes.

David Daggett:  So it helps put them on an equal footing, and, you know, as we start, as we commented at the beginning, is getting them on the equal footing at the beginning gives them the opportunity to progress-

Cindy Speaker:  Yeah. Yeah.

David Daggett: … and to excel in school, that can make a difference for their whole lifetime. So, it’s very, gratifying thing to do. We are just so, so thankful at the way that the principals and the administrators cooperate with us and so grateful for the leadership of Chief Rountree-

Cindy Speaker:  Oh, yeah.

David Daggett:  … and his officers, the Winston-Salem police department. You know, I’m getting older now, so I can go in and, you know, all the teachers, they hug me and they’re so thankful that we’re there, and it just, it’s a very rewarding and gratifying program to do.

Cindy Speaker:   That’s great, and it’s so well thought out. I think that the way that you’ve done, the way that you explained it, it’s so well thought out, it’s terrific.

David Daggett:   The other thing, we will be on Triad Today TV show, Saturday morning at 7:00, is that correct? And Sunday morning at 11:00, and Chief Rountree is on with us-

Cindy Speaker:  Oh, terrific.

David Daggett:  … talking about the backpack program.

Cindy Speaker:   Terrific.

David Daggett:   The other thing that’s kind of sentimental to me this year, is Chief Rountree retires at the end of the month, and so, this is his like, last big splash-

Cindy Speaker:  Oh.

David Daggett:   … for community events.

Cindy Speaker:   Oh, how nice.

David Daggett:  Everybody knows I’m a little bit of a softie and sensitive, so I might tear up a little bit with his retirement.

Cindy Speaker:  That’s really neat.

David Daggett:   I also-

Cindy Speaker:  Go ahead.

David Daggett:  I also tease him because he’s three and a half years younger than me, and how he’s retiring and I still have to work so hard.

Cindy Speaker:  What I was gonna say is, it’s interesting because, you do hear about, as you’ve said, these backpack programs, they’re done a lot of times in communities. But what I’ve seen is, they’re most often done by churches and groups like that, how wonderful that a law firm, is so passionate about helping the community. It’s unusual and I applaud you for that.

David Daggett:  We’re filling a bit of a need that they weren’t able to fill in any other way, and the reason is, because able to assemble a high quality, unlogoed backpack that is completely full with all recommended supplies. I’m not sure there’s another program in the area that does that.

Cindy Speaker:   Oh, I doubt it.

David Daggett:  You know, I know that we have a program in town that does, you know, the gallon sized baggies with some school supplies in it, which is great. I’m not knocking any of them, this fills a little bit of a different niche-

Cindy Speaker:  Oh, yeah, sure.

David Daggett:  … than that, and so, yeah, it’s very rewarding and we’re very proud of the program and proud of the support that we’ve gotten for it.

Cindy Speaker: Very good, well I noticed on your blog, if you go to www.DaggettShulerLaw.com/blog, the entry for yesterday, August 17th lists the times and the channels for Triad Today, so you want to catch that program with Chief Rountree and David on the weekend.

David Daggett:  Yeah, can we put a link to the website in this blog post?

Cindy Speaker:   We sure can.

David Daggett:  Can we get it up, and then you just go to the upper right corner and there’s a blog and you can click on that and that’ll take you right to it, and you can see, I’m looking at it right now, just so that I know what I’m talking about. You can see a picture there, with us on the show with Chief Rountree and a little bit about the program

Cindy Speaker:   Excellent. Well, David, listen, thanks so much for your time today, thanks for all you’re doing in the community. Always a pleasure to talk with you, and I especially love talking about the community programs that you’re so active in.

David Daggett:  The community programs, you know, unless we leave this world a little bit better than we found it, you know, I think we haven’t truly succeeded. There are opportunities like this for all of us to get involved, help our young people, our young people are the future for all of us, and for all of our communities. So, this is just one, you know, small piece of doing our part, but we sure do enjoy it.

Cindy Speaker:   Outstanding. Well, thanks David, and great talking to you.

David Daggett:  Okay. Thanks. Talk to you soon.

Cindy Speaker:   Okay, to those of you that are watching, if you have questions, comments, feel free to put them in the comment area on this post, and we’ll be glad to answer those. Thanks everybody.