Carrie emailed in the following testimonial:
Three years ago, our church of 40 members started giving away backpacks and school supplies every August for needy children in our area. I secured a list of families from a local organization, sent out invitations, and began collecting donations from Target, Meijer, and individuals.
These donations were used to fill backpacks for 150 needy children. To top it off, they were invited to our church facility where a local salon set up hair cutting stations and gave the children free back-to-school haircuts. It was incredible!
Fast forward three years, to this past August. We had so many backpacks and supplies donated the we had leftovers. I called two local schools, asking them if they would like what we had left.
One said, “Yes. We can use those to send food home to children who need it.” I was astonished, heartbroken, and saddened–there were children in our area, who for whatever reason, were not being fed by their parents on the weekend.
Since this particular school already had a food program in place, I contacted the school that was taking the remainder of our backpacks and told the counselor my plan: We wanted to provide food for needy children in the school via a backpack each week.
That started the ball rolling. The school sent home surveys to parents to get a feel for who needed food, and how many people we would be dealing with. It turned out that there are 18 children who go home each Friday with a backpack of food to feed them for seven meals over the weekend. Our little church of 40 people is feeding 18 children week! I did some math, and when it came down to it, a backpack of weekend food can be filled for less than $10!
After a few months of this, I was made aware of a national organization called Blessings in a Backpack. Although our church isn’t doing the program through this organization, it seems to be an easy way to start helping others if you need something more “official” to present to a school for consideration.
The point of the Backpack Buddies is not to fill pantries for families, but instead to provide enough food to children to get them through the weekend.
Here is a list of food we decided to collect:
- Canned vegetables and fruit (with easy open tops)
- Canned meat or meat stews (with easy open tops)
- Easy Mac or Ramen CUP of Soup
- Juice Boxes
- Shelf Stable Milk
- Snacks (granola bars, peanut butter crackers, etc.)
- Breakfast items (small boxes of cereal, granola bars, cereal bars, etc.)
We try to make the foods as kid-friendly as possible to open, prepare, and warm in the microwave.
I am so thankful to God that He has blessed us in a way that we can be a blessing to others! -Carrie