Lipscomb students Luke Benda, Macy Cottrell, Kayla Ford and Ben Siebold (’16) are the founders of the for-profit social enterprise Ed Pack Global, and on Thursday, March 30, were named the 2017 recipients of the Mary Morris Award for Exemplary Service to Society at a special awards presentation in Stowe Hall.
In memory of Dr. Mary Morris, faculty member in the College of Education and founder and director of the Center for Character Development at Lipscomb, who died in 2005 due to cancer, the Mary Morris Award is given annually to a member of the Lipscomb community who has demonstrated a high level of service to the community, and to the church.
Rob Touchstone, director of business as mission at Lipscomb and former Mary Morris Award recipient, shared a devotional and honored Ed Pack Global for the difference its making in women’s education both locally and globally.
“This year’s award recipients are using their creative gifts in a special way to invest in the lives of others,” said Touchstone. “Ed Pack Global, you are living out Kingdom principles, and we are here today to say to you that we recognize the good that we see in you and the work that you are so faithfully doing.”
More than a year ago, Benda, a senior business major; Cottrell, a senior theology major; Ford, a senior English Major; and Lipscomb alumnus Siebold; banded together to create Ed Pack Global, a backpack company that seeks to alleviate poverty one backpack at a time. Each backpack sold provides funding for the organization’s local partner Thistle Farms, a Nashville-based social enterprise of women who have survived prostitution, trafficking and addition, as well as its global partner Mi Esperanza, a Honduran nonprofit providing job skills training and microloans job and life skills training for women also healing from prostitution, trafficking or addiction.
On Jan. 17, the group launched their Kickstarter Campaign and met their $10,000 fundraising goal within hours. This feat also garnered local media attention from The Tennessean, News Channel 5, News Channel 4, Nashville Scene, Fox 10, and Yahoo News. Read more about Ed Pack Global here.
Marty Kittrell, Lipscomb alumnus and member of the university’s Board of Trustees, has formed a relationship with Ed Pack Global after the group won the $10,000 first place prize of the Kittrell Pitch Competition in 2016.
Hosted by Lipscomb University’s Center for Entreprenuership in the College of Business, the Kittrell Pitch Competition gives Lipscomb students the chance to create their own business models and gain experience pitching their ideas to judges who represent future investors. Each year, Kittrell provides $20,000 for the event in honor of his father, William, who was a 1941 graduate of Lipscomb.
“I think Luke, Macy, Ben and Kayla knew that the surest way to alleviate poverty was to empower women, one of the world’s most perpetually marginalized populations,” said Kittrell. “These students wanted to do something about that, so they combined a passion for social change, to create a product that gives back. They saw an opportunity in the market place and Ed Pack Global fills that gap.
“I also really appreciate Joe Ivey, Jerry Stubblefield and Rob Touchstone who mentor these students, and for the program they have at Lipscomb that helps students to balance their enthusiasm for creating a business, with their enthusiasm and servant hearts for giving back to the community,” Kittrell continued. “It’s really been awe-inspiring to watch them in action over the past year.”
Katrina Robertson, national sales director for Thistle Farms, was also present at the ceremony to honor Ed Pack Global and thank them for their continued support.
“The business plans of Ed Pack Global and everything you’re doing is touching and reaching and helping to change women’s lives. How do I know? I am a direct result of the community at Thistle Farms in Nashville who helps women survive lives of tragedy, addiction, abuse to get off the streets and out of jail to reclaim their lives,” said Robertson. “The best part of your contributions is that women are continually coming off the streets, and this is not just an issue in Nashville, Tennessee, it is a global issue. And you all are helping as women all across the world are reclaiming their lives and being able to heal because of your organization and the work you’re doing.”
The Mary Morris Award for Exemplary Service to Society would not be possible without the support of the Morris family. During the awards presentation, Charlie Morris, the father of Mary Morris, shared how he is reminded that we have a calling much bigger than ourselves and a life of service is the best possible life to live.
“We would like to first of all thank the Morris Family,” said Benda, on behalf of the Ed Pack Global team. “We are so honored to become part of the Morris legacy, and are thankful for all that you’ve done. We want to also thank all of our mentors: Marty Kittrell, Rob Touchstone, Joe Ivey and Jerry Stubblefield. We would’ve never made it this far without all of you. And lastly, we want to thank the Lipscomb community…everyone has been so supportive and encouraging to us along this journey. So thank you so much, this award means so much to us.”
Ed Pack Global is the 12th recipient of the Mary Morris Award, and each recipient has demonstrated a spirit of volunteerism, engaged in meaningful civic activities in the community that help spread God’s light, demonstrated a commitment to Christian missions wherever they may be, has been an advocate for Lipscomb University, and has exhibited vision in creating new avenues to expand Christian principles in unconventional ways.
Past winners of the Mary Morris Award for Exemplary Service to Society include Carrie Thornthwaite, Rob Touchstone, Caleb Pickering, Richard Goode, Brett Flener, Kim Tucker, Tom Burton, Lindsey and Andrew Krinks, Jon Lee, Randy Steger and Nancy Moon Gonzalez.
To learn more about Ed Pack Global, visit: www.edpackglobal.com/.