BackPack Pals: Program Provides Foods to Schoolchildren
BackPack Pals, a program of Moore County Schools, partnering with the Food Bank of Southeastern North Carolina, Moore County churches, Moore County organizations and the Sandhills Food Bank began with one school in December 2005, serving 25 children.
St. Joseph of the Pines provided start-up funds in addition to a large donation from a Moore County family trust fund. Five more schools were added in the spring of 2006.
On Sept. 28, six additional primary and elementary schools were added to the program, bringing the total to 12 schools serving 300 children weekly. Since September, 37 more children have been added to the program.
The program is designed to provide nutritious foods to children identified by school staff to have little or nothing to eat over the weekend. Children in primary and elementary schools are recognized with input from teachers, teacher assistants, school nurses, counselors and social workers as candidates for the program. Once the identification process is complete, letters are sent home to obtain permission from the parents or guardians for the child to participate. BackPacks are then issued to the student, free of logos, maintaining the dignity and anonymity of the participants.
Plans to expand the program to reach more children include requesting donations of specific items per week from area churches not on the program.
Churches currently participating include Southern Pines United Methodist Church; Mosaic Ministries; Roseland United Methodist Church; Doubs Chapel United Methodist Church; Cameron Baptist Church; Smyrna United Methodist Church; Love Grove Free Will Baptist Church; St. Mary Magdelene Episcopal Church; Eureka Presbyterian Church; Open Arms Community Church; Aberdeen First Baptist Church; Emmanuel Baptist Church; First Presbyterian Church, Carthage; Jackson Springs Presbyterian Church; Calvary Chapel; Emmanuel Episcopal Church; Highfalls United Methodist Church, West End; Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Pinehurst; and First Baptist Church, Southern Pines United Methodist Church; Pinehurst United Methodist Church; Trinity A.M.E. Zion Church; Cameron Presbyterian Church; Calvary Chapel; Seven Lakes Baptist Church; and Vass United Methodist Church.
Volunteers play an important role toward the success of BackPack Pals working at the Sandhills Food Bank and serving a school. Volunteers assigned to a school are responsible for picking up the BackPacks and bringing them to the Sandhills Food Bank every Thursday, filling them and returning them to the school for distribution on Friday.
Prior to the volunteers' arrival at the Food Bank, another crew of volunteers meets and sets up the assembly line with products that will be used for that particular week.
Schools currently served and volunteers responsible for them include Aberdeen Elementary, St. Joseph of the Pines; Aberdeen Primary, Mosaic Ministries; Southern Pines Elementary, Kiwanis Club of the Sandhills; Southern Pines Primary, Kiwanis Club of the Sandhills; Robbins Elementary, FirstHealth and Northern Moore Family Resource Center; Vass-Lakeview Elementary, Sandhills Teen Challenge; Cameron Elementary, Patty Burke, Carthage Elementary Sandhills Teen Challenge; Pinehurst Elementary, Pinehurst Elementary P.T.A.; West End Elementary, West End Lions Club; Sandhills Children Center, Lynda Newsome and Cindy Davis; Westmoore Elementary, FirstHealth and Northern Moore Family Resource Center.
Volunteers at the Sandhills Food Bank include Sheila Henderson, Dawn Crawley, Brian Henderson, Becky Kennedy, Karen Tavenor, Nancy Clay, Charlie Carlton, Suzy Carlton, Paula Bouchard, Susan Holmes, Libby Staples, Kim Blue, Frank Smithers, Margaret Kinker and volunteers from Pinetree Enterprises.
Organizations supporting BackPack Pals date include Bayer Corporation, FirstHealth, Seven Lakes Kiwanis, Kiwanis Club of the Sandhills, Moore County Leadership Institute, Moore County Schools Office Professionals, Gulistan Carpet, Auto Werks, Coldwell Banker United Realty, Pinetree Enterprises, Aktion Club, Sandhills Teen Challenge, Southern Pines Civic Club, St. Joseph of the Pines, Vass Lions, Seven Lakes Lions, Pinehurst/Southern Pines Area Board of Realtors, Alpha Delta Kappa, and Quail Haven Village.
The Women of Seven Lakes are planning a benefit golf tournament for Backpack Pals at Beacon Ridge on Friday May 18.
For more information about the program or golf tournament and how to get involved contact Linda Hubbard or Tina Kissell at 947-2342.
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