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Blessings in a Backpack Looks to End Hunger

March 10, 2014

  PLYMOUTH – When the school bell rings at the end of the day on Friday, for many Plymouth children that means a long weekend of hunger.  Volunteers at Blessings in a Backpack hope to end that routine for as many children as possible.

Blessings in a Backpack is a program that provides food for 200 students each week from Plymouth’s four elementary schools, as well as Riverside Intermediate and Lincoln Junior High School. On the first Thursday of each month during the school year, volunteers gather at Memories Reception Hall at 401 E. Jefferson to assemble a month’s worth of food bags. The bags contain canned soup, Ramen noodles, cereal and a variety of other food items. This week members of Plymouth Kiwanis gave of their time for a service project to help assemble the bags with employees of Miller’s Merry Manor and other volunteers. The bags are then loaded into tubs and distributed to the schools. School officials pass them out to the students before they head home on Friday.

  Ellen Stillson and Chris Garner organize the program locally. Stillson says it costs just $80 per year to sponsor a student. Stillson added that the demand is greater than the group can currently provide.

“Our last count showed around 600 kids eligible for this program. We would love to be able to feed them all! In order to do that, we would need a large space to be able to store the food. We have been given a space at the Memories Banquet Hall for our monthly packing location and they have been more than generous with us. However, if we want to expand the program any more, we will need a much larger space to not only sort the food, but also to store food.”

All of the money donated to the program stays local. Donations of non-perishable food items, such as macaroni and cheese, granola bars and juice boxes, are also welcome.

“Chris and I are so grateful for the people who help to support it, both financially and through volunteering” Stillson said. “We have some very faithful volunteers who show up each month to help us pack the backpacks for the month and we have dedicated social workers at the schools who make sure the bags get to the families who most need them.”

Stillson added that her group could also use 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. Chris 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 one community at a time. The Plymouth Kiwanis meet each Tuesday at noon at Christos’  Banquet Center in Plymouth and interested new members are always welcome. For more information, contact Tom Sibal at 935-8442.

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