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Wayne County Schools' Backpack Program appreciates donations to help hungry children

Monticello Lodge #431 members gave a generous donation to the backpack program

       Wayne County Family Resource Centers are the heart of each school. They provide everything from clothing to assemblies to resources to all kinds of extra help to students in need.  They are all about removing obstacles to learning for local students.

      The student backpack program is one example of the many caring opportunities the directors bring to children in their buildings.  As far back as 2009, former Family Resource Center Director Virginia Southard got the program off the ground. She understood that some of the students went hungry on the weekends, therefore they had a hard time learning on Mondays, until they were fed at school.

      Even though the numbers have decreased, most probably because of additional food service sources during COVID, students unfortunately, still face some of the same obstacles in Wayne County. The centers distribute approximately 45 backpacks at the elementary schools on Fridays. In the early years of the program, they averaged 75 to 80 students participating.

      “ I put bags in lockers/cubbies on Thursday after students leave the building so students can put them in their backpack, Friday morning to take them with them at the end of the day,” explained Cardinal Family Resource Center Coordinator Leslie Randall, who is located at Monticello Elementary.

        “We attempt to place the food (which is in a grocery bag) in the students’ backpacks during the childrens’ special classes” in order to be discrete, explained Walker/Bell FRC Coordinator Kendra Patton.

          The schools pick up the food at the Hope Center, early in the month. Then they distribute on Fridays, or to the preschoolers on Thursdays since they only attend school four days a week. The bags are packed at Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland in Elizabethtown, KY. It includes breakfast bars, fruit cups, mac and cheese, vegetable cups, crackers, shelf-stable milk, nabs. Included are any easy or low-prep goods that kids can prepare on their own or with little supervision.

         Randall said, “We’ve had tremendous support through the years from the faith community, as well as businesses and individual donations. It costs $120 to sponsor a child in the backpack program for a school year. That cost has been steady for several years now. Feeding America informed us that the cost had increased so the $120 didn’t cover their cost, but they weren’t going to increase this year, but likely will next year. Feeding America also receives several grants, and they distribute those evenly among all the counties participating in the backpack program.

      “All donations are needed and appreciated,” said Kendra Patton. “We are blessed to live in a community that loves children and folks who will go the extra mile to care for them. We are blessed with the sweetest little darlings ever and being a part of their lives means everything.”

        One of the program’s most recent local donors, Monticello Lodge #431, have contributed to this cause for several years. Lodge Secretary Eddie Norfleet said, "Monticello Lodge #431 is an organization of liked minded individuals that have a strong desire to help feed the needy youth in our community." Wayne County Schools appreciates partnerships like this in making this program a success.

        If anyone would like to donate to the Backpack Program, they can do that online through Feeding America, Kentucky’s Second Harvest. Just make sure they note it is for the Wayne County program. They can donate locally through the Hope Center, but be sure to note that it is for the Backpack Program or they can donate through any of the Family Resource/Youth Service Centers.

Rodney Butcher and fellow Monticello Lodge #431 members presented a $1,500 donation to FRC Director Kendra Patton and Walker Elementary Principal Angela Ballinger recently

Members of Monticello Lodge #431 Brothers Eddie Norfleet, Jimmy Thompson and and Master Reed Neal proudly presented a $1,500 donation to FRC Director Kendra Patton and Walker Elementary Principal Angela Ballinger to support the backpack program recently.

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