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Community comes together for Green Blessings in a Backpack program

10/3/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Joyce Rainey Long

Volunteers from the schools and community form assembly lines to fill grocery bags of food for students in need during the Blessings in a Backpack program kickoff Sept. 26.
Blessings in a Backpack Program Coordinator Jennifer Doerrer stocks shelves with food.
Photos: Joyce Rainey Long
GREEN — On weekends, some Green Local Schools students come home with more than just homework and books — they bring home a grocery bag of food for the weekend, thanks to the Blessings in a Backpack program.

The program is in its second year at Greenwood Learning Center and Green Primary School. Program Coordinator Jennifer Doerrer organized a kickoff of the program at the Primary School Sept. 26. Twenty-four community members, school officials and staff, volunteers and employees of FedEx Custom Critical in Green formed assembly lines to fill grocery bags of healthy nonperishable food for children in need.

The food, which covers breakfast, lunch and snacks for a weekend, is distributed every Friday for the next 34 weeks, said Doerrer. Usually, the cost is $80 a school year to feed a child, but through donations and grants, Doerrer said Green’s cost last year was $34 per child.

“This has made a big difference for families in need,” said Doerrer. “This is a great example of what a community can do. Children don’t have to be hungry.”

Teachers discreetly slip the grocery bags inside students’ backpacks when they are out of the classroom, said Green Primary Principal Scott Shank. The program also provides meals for siblings in other buildings. At Green Local Schools, 25 percent of students receive free or reduced lunches, said Shank.

“This is an amazing program,” Shank said. “We see an increase in test scores, behavior and attendance when students are getting their needs met.”

Green Mayor Dick Norton helped fill the grocery bags at the kickoff event.

“I am honored to be in a community where business people help needy people and remain involved and are kind and generous with their resources,” Norton said.

According to program officials, donors to Blessings in a Backpack in Green include the Millennium Fund for Children of Akron Community Foundation; FedEx Custom Critical; Queen of Heaven Catholic Church; Cub Scouts; Girl Scouts; First Book-Greater Akron; Toth Buick; Park Auto Group; Lexus of Akron/Canton; Target; Jeffrey Masin, M.D., of Akron; and other private donors.

“This shows the power of collaboration and partnership, and the community can rally around a cause with an ultimate result and a lot will benefit,” said Green Assistant Superintendent Kevin Finefrock.

For more information on the program or to donate, contact Greenwood Early Learning Center at 330-896-7474 or Green Primary School at 330-899-8700 or Doerrer at jaraddoerr@yahoo.com.

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