09/06/13 Thursday morning several members of the Plymouth Rotary Club joined the founders and volunteers of “Blessings in a Backpack” to help pack this month’s food packages. 

Ellen Stillson and Chris Garner started the program three years ago with just 25 children at Menominee Elementary School.  Blessings in a Backpack is now serving 200 hundred students weekly in grades K through 8 in the Plymouth School Corporation. 

This unique program was designed to feed elementary children whose families qualify for the federal free and reduced lunch program, and have little to no food on the weekends.  Results show that children participating in the program raise their test scores, improve their reading skills, show positive behaviors, have improved health and increased attendance.  The students are given their satchel of food on Friday so that they have breakfast and lunch on Saturday and Sunday.

It costs $80 to feed one child for the entire school year.  Blessings in a Backpack offer the students kid friendly, non-perishable food from three of the four essential food groups.  Items include but are not limited to granola bars, instant oatmeal, raisins, apple sauce, crackers, macaroni and cheese and soup.

This month’s shopping trip happened at the Plymouth Wal-Mart, a partner in the program.  On Thursday, Laurie Sutter Past President of the Plymouth Rotary Club met up with Stillson and Garner and purchased the food necessary to feed all 200 children for the month of September, a bill of about $1,800.   Sutter explained that the Plymouth Rotary Club applied for and received a district simplified grant to assist the Blessings in a Backpack program in Plymouth. 

Chris Garner said they still need $10,000 to feed the children for this school year.  An individual or organization could adopt one or more children and donate $80 or more to feed a child this school year.  Garner said, “The donation no matter how small is helpful to the program.  Whether someone donates $20 or $200…. one hundred percent of the donation goes to feed the children.  You can make an online donation to Blessings in a Backpack through their  website or mail your contribution to Chris Garner c/o Blessing in a Backpack, 12954 6th Road, Plymouth, IN 46563 or even drop off a check at one of the participating schools. 

Garner also noted that they are in need of 30 family size boxes of mac and cheese.  If someone would be interested in donating you can contact her through email at crgarner@gmail.com or call her at 936-0613.