Eugene company sends waterproof backpacks to Malawi

EUGENE, Ore. - During her time on assignment with the peace corps in Malawi, Lauren Rodgers found that students had to walk more than 6 miles in the rain to get to school.

Rodgers pitched the idea of developing a waterproof backpack to her parents, who run Oregon Paddle Sports in west Eugene.

"She said, 'Can't you make a dry bag that's a waterproof book bag?" said Lauren's father, Ken Rodgers. "I thought 'yeah, that could be done.' That's where ideas come from the need."

Oregon Paddle Sports shipped out 100 waterproof bags to Malawi last week. Thanks to donations from the community, Oregon Paddle Sports filled each with paper, pencils, sharpeners, and umbrellas.

"She came up with this idea and we just decided to fly with it," said Theresa Welch, Lauren's mother. "We've just been going with it and getting prototype bags made."

Now working on their final design for the waterproof backpack, the Rodgers family said they plan on sending another batch to the students of Malawi in the future.

They are accepting donations for their project at their store off Commercial Street or at any Oregon Community Credit Union.