St. Joseph Stays Involved in BackPack Program
When school opened this fall, 600 students carried home brand new supplies compliments of St. Joseph of the Pines to make the transition from summer to six hours of classroom activities easier to handle.
Thanks to the BackPack Pals program in Moore County Schools, each year the list of children identified as not having enough to eat on the weekends expands to feed more and more youngsters.
An offshoot of the BackPack Pals activity results in these same children getting gifts to help with their studies.
Linda Hubbard, community schools volunteer coordinator for the county, has watched the program mushroom into a successful and respected, well-tuned, weekly movement that garners the support of churches, not-for profit organizations, individuals, restaurants and other businesses.
Hubbard, though, is not one to sit on the sidelines and watch while the BackPack Pals Program continues with the flurry of bustle from the hands-on teams that make it happen.
She, instead, is the chief hands-on person. She's the guardian, the shopper, the fundraiser, the public relations leader and the staple that holds together the hundreds of volunteers who pick up, pack up and deliver the goods for the neediest of Moore County's children.
While the standard provision packed in children's backpacks at the food bank is nutritious food to take home on Friday afternoons to eat on the weekend, at least twice a year there is a deviation in that protocol.
Last year St. Joseph of the Pines paid for gender- and age-appropriate books given to all children in BackPack Pals as a Christmas present.
As the new school year begins, new pencils, crayons, notebooks, binders, markers and assorted supplies are donated as a result of a school supplies drive on St. Joseph campuses through the Spiritual Care and Volunteer Services Departments.
As in the past, St. Joseph of the Pines is instrumental in the amount of supplies made available for the children.
St. Joseph volunteer Gregory Maushart delivered boxes and bags full of school materials to the Ed Center in Carthage.
Those classroom items, coupled with the $940 collected from residents at Belle Meade, Pine Knoll and Coventry, and from associates and volunteers, and the additional $1,500 donated by St. Joseph of the Pines, were made possible because of St. Joseph's community benefit commitment to the BackPack Pals program.
"I'm awed by the checks that were brought in," says Hubbard after receiving them from St. Joseph social worker and BPP volunteer Beth Price. "I can't tell you how much we appreciate this support. It's wonderful."
She predicts that the BackPack Pals is going "to balloon."
In 2005, St. Joseph of the Pines gave Moore County Schools seed money to institute BackPack Pals, a program that gives children in need nutritious food for the weekends since they do not have their free and reduced school lunches.
"With the recognition that these are tough economic times, it becomes increasingly important for St. Joseph of the Pines to live out its mission and help those in our community in need," says Ken Cormier, president and CEO of St. Joseph of the Pines. "Once again, I am proud that through the efforts of our residents, staff and volunteers, we can provide school supplies to so many children as they begin the school year. Our appreciation goes out to Dr. Susan Purser and her entire staff for their dedication and commitment in educating our future leaders."
Before school started, a well-orchestrated assembly-line effort at the Ed Center in Carthage concluded with 600 backpacks getting a hefty assortment of school supplies stuffed into their largest compartment by local Boy Scout Troop No. 223.
In addition to the St. Joseph donations, Pinehurst Spa contributed supplies that were collected during a drive to have their customers bring in classroom items in exchange for a 10-percent discount.
Dentists collected and supplied oral hygiene items, and a Pinehurst pub collected money for the program.
St. Joseph of the Pines is sponsored by the Sisters of Providence and is a member of Catholic Health East. It includes the Health Center, Therapy Village, Belle Meade, Overlook and Villas at Pine Knoll, Coventry and Providence Place.
Jeralie Andrews is the volunteer director for St. Joseph of the Pines.
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