To help sponsor more children so the Blessings in a Backpack program can grow into other schools, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every Friday morning, Nick Futrell, Kinsey White and a handful of volunteers fill 50 backpacks with Pop-Tarts, juice boxes, popcorn and other fun snacks for younger children.
Their weekly effort is part of the Blessings in a Backpack program and club the two Lambert High sophomores started to help feed students in need from eight area elementary schools.
“There are other programs in the county that focus on feeding the whole family, so they give them food and dinner stuff, but they don’t give them kid-friendly food,” Futrell said. “So these kids need that kind of thing. The kids are all excited to have snacks like their friends.”
He said the students started coordinating the effort last year, but it wasn’t until January that the first backpack delivery occurred.
Before handing them out, the students had to raise money, determine the recipients, work out how to get the food and coordinate its delivery.
According to Futrell, it takes about $80 a year to provide one child a backpack of food. To date, the club has raised enough money to buy food for 50 students “through the rest of the year and about half of next year.”
Lambert math teacher Lizanne Adams is often approached by students asking her to sponsor a new club. Her answer is usually no, but Blessings in a Backpack was different.
“So many of them are just for the wrong reasons, they … want to form a club for college [applications] or for other reasons,” she said. “But these kids had such a heart.
“It’s always been a super high interest of mine to help in your own county where you live … it’s our community and our family and so that’s been the most exciting part for me is to see the students really self-leading and then to know it’s in our own county.”
Adams noted that the students have done all the work — from typing up a business plan to approaching companies and residents for donations.
The club is part of a national organization but one of just a few chapters in Georgia.
That’s why companies such as Publix and Wal-Mart “have been very gracious in what they donate,” Adams said.
Local businesses and families have also been key donors. Northside Hospital-Forsyth was the first business to help, Futrell said, and it grew from there.
“People like to help out kids in their own community,” he said.
Every Friday, Futrell and fellow students stuff 50 backpacks and give them to parents and other adults to deliver to the schools for distribution. The backpacks are then returned to Lambert by the end of the week so they can be refilled.
“Social workers have identified the students for us and they tell us where the need is, but they don’t tell us the students’ names,” Futrell said. “They just tell us which schools need the backpacks and how many.
“But I just love to see the reactions that we get back from the counselors [that] kids were crying because they were so happy, and that really touched me to see how much of an impact we made on kids in our own community.”