Odalo Ohiku poses with students at the donation event in Milwaukee.
Aug. 16, 2017 – Odalo Ohiku’s law practice philosophy is “care for the whole person.”
He recently demonstrated that this philosophy also extends to his community. In July, Ohiku and the staff at his Milwaukee firm, Law Office of Odalo J. Ohiku, donated 300 backpacks filled with school supplies for elementary school students headed for a new school year at Bruce-Guadalupe Community School on Milwaukee’s south side.
Shannon Green is communications writer for the State Bar of Wisconsin, Madison. She can be reached by email or by phone at (608) 250-6135.
Now in its second year, the “Backpack to School” event is an annual drive organized and sponsored by the firm. “The purpose is for our office to give back to the local Milwaukee community and make a positive difference,” Ohiku said. They chose the area because of the large concentration of students and families there who have difficulty purchasing the necessary supplies, he said.
Ohiku initiated the drive in 2016 to ease the financial burden for low- or fixed-income families with school-age children. “This burden can sometimes hinder families from being excited about the new school year,” he said. “By the time our families leave the event, we hope students are more encouraged about starting the school year, and parents feel relieved their children have the supplies they need.”
Last year, they held the event at a north side church. “Our goal is to target different schools in different areas of the city we think would benefit most,” Ohiku said.
Energizing Students for School
The event was held July 12 at the United Community Center on Milwaukee’s south side. “It was a huge success – within 30 minutes of the event starting, all backpacks were given away,” Ohiku said.
Ohiku’s office donated not only backpacks and school supplies, but also provided entertainment at the donation event that included music, popcorn, coloring, a balloon artist, face-painting, health screenings, and games.
By the time our families leave the event, we hope students are more encouraged about starting the school year, and parents feel relieved their children have the supplies they need.
“The event is a pep rally to get students pumped up about going back to school and learning,” Ohiku said.
Students “had a blast” dancing and participating in the activities, said Ricardo Diaz, executive director of United Community Center. “We could not have provided this wonderful event and gifts to the students” without the help of Ohiku and his staff, he said.
Face painting, music, health screenings, and more accompanied the backpack donation.
Ohiku’s firm went “above and beyond” with their donation, making a “tremendous impact” on the students and their families, said Pascual Rodriguez, principal of Bruce-Guadalupe Community School.
Obtaining supplies for school is an important factor for the students to feel confident and prepared for each school day, Rodriguez said. “Having the appropriate supplies instills the confidence students need to reach their full potential.”
The event is a pep rally to get students pumped up about going back to school and learning.
The backpacks and supplies along with the fun entertainment and activities get students excited to face the challenges of a new grade and a new school year, Rodriguez said. “This excitement and eagerness to learn are critical to the students’ growth,” he said.
Making a Positive Contact with the Legal Community
The event also serves another important purpose. “We hope to increase the positive contact our families have with the legal community,” Ohiku said. “We want them to know we care.”
“We cannot wait to plan and host next year’s backpack school drive,” Ohiku said.