Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Friday Backpack Project

My mom's friend, a nurse at Harrison Park School just started this awesome program and is currently looking for funding both cash and food supplies.  Here is an email explaining the Friday Backpack Project.

We started this project as a trial to see if there would even be any interest. We knew there was a need but we weren’t sure about the interest.  This particular school, Clark at Binnsmead (which since July of 2009 has had it’s name changed to Harrison Park School) has 720 students, 84% of which are at or below poverty level. This school is located at 2225 S.E. 87th Avenue off Division Street.  At Clark every student receives free breakfast.

The mission of our project is to “nourish the body that nourishes the mind”.  The Backpack project would discreetly provide children with food to take home over the weekend.  Backpacks are packed with nutritious, child friendly, easy to prepare foods.

We started off by sending information regarding the project in the school parent newsletter, with a tear off portion to be completed by the parent requesting participation in the program.  The response was phenomenal!

We had already secured the backpacks (courtesy of Columbia Sportswear) so the next step was to figure out how we could collect all the food items.  Basically the cost to fill a backpack is $12.00 (examples of items include: peanut butter, jelly, pasta and pasta sauce, fruit, juice, granola bars, and bread).  To do this we enlisted the help of staff, friends, a neighborhood church, family and families of staff.

In planning this trial we chose to just do it the last 11 weeks of the school year because once we started the project we wanted to make sure we could sustain the project.  Over these 11 Fridays we filled over 215 backpacks.  This truly was a community project because while we did receive $700 in cash donations we needed over $2,000 in food which we were fortunate enough to obtain from the community mentioned above. 

Our goal for the 2009/2010 school year is to offer backpacks during the entire year.  $384 pays for a backpack for a child for every Friday of the school year.  We hope to pack at least 20 backpacks per Friday which adds up to about $960 per month.  We know this is a huge project to tackle, but it is so great for a child/our student to take home a backpack filled with healthy food for the weekend – a great boost for their self esteem as well as having healthy benefits!

Interested in getting involved?  Leave me a note and let me know and I'll contact you.

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