Blessings in a Backpack started in 2012 in Menominee Elementary School in Plymouth thanks to the work of Chris Garner and Ellen Stillson. The two ladies volunteered to start the program that provides two breakfast items, two lunch items and two snack items to children who need food assistance on the weekends when school aren’t open to provide free meals. When the program opened they provided 24 students with food assistance to the neediest children.
The program has grown to 180 Blessings in a Backpack each weekend to the four elementary schools in the Plymouth Community School Corporation and families at Riverside Intermediate School. The school counselors make the determination of which children will receive the assistance.
Preparing the backpacks is a chore. Once a month Garner and her new partner, Robin Neidig gather the items to be packed in the backpacks, separate the items into totes at Memories Banquet Hall, which donated the space. They then create a production line with volunteers to fill the bags. On Wednesday volunteers from the City of Plymouth spent about 20 minutes filling backpacks with cereal, oatmeal, pop tarts, granola bars, apple sauce, pudding, soups, mac & cheese, pop corn, crackers and cheese and canned ravioli. The menu varies weekly and employees from the Plymouth Fire Department, Mayor’s Office, Park Department, Plymouth Police Department, Airport, Cemetery, Building Commissioner, City Attorney, City Council representatives and Street Department helped.
Blessings in a backpack is funded solely by donations. It cost about $85 per child to feed them over the weekends for the entire school year. If you’d like to donate you can go to www.blessingsinabackpack.org and use a credit card to donate on line with a reference to Plymouth Schools or you can mail a check made out to Blessings in a Backpack and mail it to Chris Garner at 12954 6th Road in Plymouth.