By Amie Sites Pharos-Tribune
---- — Elizabeth Billman, previous Thompson Elementary principal, knew the Thompson Totes Backpack program was making a difference when she met with a few children. One boy who was receiving a backpack looked at her and said he could now have breakfast on Saturday, too.
Three years later, the program has grown to cover not only Thompson students, but Galveston ones as well.
The program began in November 2010 with 65 hungry families receiving backpacks. In 2012, the weekly program benefited 85 families, with a total 2,800 bags and 21,000 pounds of food distributed.
This year, qualifying students in kindergarten through sixth grade at Thompson and Galveston Elementary schools will receive food. Mary Burrous, a member of Shiloh Evangelical Lutheran Church who has been involved in the program since the first meeting, said they anticipate serving about 125 children.
With the growing number of anticipated students, the program is looking for donations for the next school year. $190 will provide one child with weekend take-home food for a school year. $95 will provide a child food for a semester and $6 will sponsor a child for a week.
Some 2,000 pounds of food is delivered once a month and every Thursday during the school year, volunteers pack the number of bags needed. Between eight to 10 items of food are sent home and can include packets of oatmeal, boxes of juice, cans of fruits, vegetables and Spaghettios among other items.
United Way of Cass County and Area Five Agency on Aging and Community Services bgave the startup money for the program through two grants and it has been funded since through donations, Burrous said.
“The project has been very much community-based,” Burrous said. “I’m amazed and thankful at how generous people are.”
Burrous said 5,3000 volunteer hours were spent last year by individuals, school groups, community members and church groups.
In the next two weeks Burrous will be sending letters to previous sponsors and local businesses. A stack of applications will also be sent to the Walton library.
Those interested in donating can email firstname.lastname@example.org, mail Thompson Totes at P.O. Box 447 Walton, IN 46994 or mail United Way of Cass County at 401 E. Broadway Logansport, IN 46947 with Thompson Totes in the memo line.
“It’s a great service for the children, but it really gives the community an opportunity to participate in a program that makes a difference,” Blilman said. “This is a feel-good project for all involved.”
Amie Sites is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5117 or email@example.com.
Want to help? To donate toward Thompson Totes, email firstname.lastname@example.org, mail Thompson Totes at P.O. Box 447 Walton, IN 46994 or mail United Way of Cass County at 401 E. Broadway Logansport, IN 46947 with Thompson Totes in the memo line.