03/08/13 Plymouth Kiwanians are always working hard to help area children. When they heard Chris Garner speak last month about how Blessings in a Backpack keeps local kids from going hungry each weekend, they jumped into action.
Garner told the Kiwanians that Blessings in a Backpack feeds 200 kids each weekend from Plymouth’s four elementary schools as well as Riverside Intermediate and Lincoln Junior High School. Garner and a group of volunteers gather on the first Thursday of each month during the school year at Memories Reception Hall in the 400 block of East Jefferson. They assemble four bags per child, 800 bags in all. Each bag contains a weekend’s worth of food. The bags are then boxed up and given to the schools to pass out to the children before they head home each Friday. Garner said for many kids, this is the only food they have to eat for the entire weekend.
That story caught the attention of all Kiwanians and they wanted to help. The Kiwanians agreed to sponsor one child at each Plymouth elementary school at a cost of $320. Garner said that one thing they would like to have is an apple or an orange for each bag. Kiwanian Cathy Rush contacted Joe Glaub, manager of the Plymouth Kroger’s, to donate one apple for each child for the rest of the school year. The Kiwanians also purchased oranges to go along with the apples for each child.
Packing and transporting 800 bags of food is back-breaking work, and Garner said they really needed a large cart to transport the packed food from the Memories Reception Hall to the volunteers’ cars. Plymouth mayor Mark Center, also a Kiwanian, contacted management at the Plymouth Lowe’s and arranged for the donation of a cart to Blessings in a Backpack. Garner said she was deeply touched by the donations and said the cart would make the work of the volunteers so much easier. She added the donation of fruit and money would help make a child’s weekend that much brighter.
Garner said the program started last year with 25 children at Menominee Elementary and has grown to 200 children this year. She hopes Blessings in a Backpack can help 250 kids next year. Anyone can donate to Blessings in a Backpack and Garner said that 100 percent of the money donated stays local. Donations of non-perishable food items, such as macaroni and cheese, granola bars and juice boxes are also welcome. Garner added that her group could also use six additional 18-gallon totes with lids to help distribute the bagged food. Volunteers to help bag the food each month are also welcome. Checks can be mailed to Blessings in Backpack, 12954 6th Road, Plymouth, IN 46563. Garner can be contacted at 936-0613 for more information.
Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world, one child and once community at a time. The Plymouth Kiwanis meet each Tuesday at noon at Chirsito’s Banquet Center in Plymouth and interested new members are always welcome. For more information contact Tom Sibal at 935-8442.
Pictured: Kathy Rush, Kiwanis, Pet Devos, Assistant manager of Lowes, Mark Senter, Kiwanis , Chris Garner, Blessings in a Backpack, Ellen Stillson, Blessings in Backpack