Residents at Village Northwest Unlimited have joined forces with the Backpack Program to help local children in need of enough healthy food to get them through the weekend. From February through May, groups from the Village spend time two days each week volunteering at the United Methodist Church to fill bags and restock supplies for the program.
During their time, one day is spent bagging food items for the 93 backpacks that are distributed each week through the schools. The second work day is spent restocking and organizing items in preparation for the next packing day. “This is a great opportunity for residents to serve the community,” says Jo Johnson, Director of ICF/ID & Program Services at Village Northwest Unlimited. “The Village provides transportation for residents to and from the church and individuals are able to volunteer in the community. It’s a benefit for individuals we serve as well as for kids in the community.”
“The United Methodist Church serves as a hub for storing supplies and packing the backpacks,” says Tricia Meendering, Children’s Ministry Coordinator, United Methodist Church. “We had put out a call asking for help to fill backpacks and members of the Village expressed interest right away.”
In addition to the residents’ service project, staff at the Village took matters one step further in support of the Backpack Program. The Village’s PEP committee (People Exciting People) organized a staff fundraiser where with a minimum donation, staff could be entered into a drawing for a winter getaway package to King’s Pointe in Storm Lake, IA. The committee’s goal was to raise $500 for the Backpack Program. Employees exceeded that goal by raising over $625 for the program.
“We have a great team of staff at the Village who care about people,” says Marcia Vaandrager, Coordinator of Therapeutic Services, Village Northwest Unlimited. “We’re delighted to be able to come together in support of kids in the community just as the community has long supported the Village.”
The backpack program confidentially provides a food sack every Friday that goes home in a student’s backpack at no cost to the family. The backpack program is funded strictly though donations and grants and will only be available as long as there is funding. Contributions can be made payable to the Sheldon Education Foundation and sent to the Sheldon Middle School at 310 23rd Avenue in Sheldon.