Backpack Buddies helps 700 children fight weekend hunger

Backpack Buddies

By Dave Heller 

Rev. Dave Heller
Rev. Dave Heller

I’m pinch-hitting this week for one of the pastors and thought I would let you know about a ministry that the Columbus Baptist Association has had for the past two years that impacts children in our Columbus County School System that are identified as “at risk for hunger” on the weekends. 

The Backpack Buddy Program is designed to help provide needed food for these 700 children, who otherwise may go without food from the time they leave school on Friday until they return Monday morning.  Churches, businesses, civic groups, and individuals have collaborated, along with some grants from The United Way, to help prepare these bags of food for the children in need. 

Each bag contains two breakfast items, four lunch/dinner items, 4 snack items, and three box juices, along with silverware, napkins, and wet naps.  These items are all non-perishable, no cooking needed, individual sized items like Pop-Tarts, Beef Ravioli, juice boxes, individual cereal boxes, Slim Jims, fruit cups, fruit snacks, Peanut-Butter Crackers, Jif-To-Go peanut butter cups, tuna fish and cracker kits, and so on. 

Volunteers pack these food items into zip-top bags and box them up.  The school social workers come and pick them up from the Association office and distribute them to the schools, where they are discreetly given out to the identified children who are “at risk for hunger.”  They never make a big deal about it in front of other children, so as not to embarrass anyone or single them out.  It is all done very discreetly by the teachers and social workers. 

Last year, the Columbus Baptist Association and their partners produced approximately 14,000 bags that were distributed throughout all Columbus County schools, from Kindergarten through high school.  Our goal is to increase our production for the coming school year, so that the needs will be met each week. 

Even when school begins in August, whether they go to the school house or learn from home, these kids will still be hungry.  The social workers will deliver these bags to the student’s homes if they are not in school.  No matter where they will learn, we will help to feed them over the weekends.  This is what a community does – we work together. 

You can help.  When you go grocery shopping at the store, pick up a few extra items and drop them off at the Columbus Baptist Association Office, located at 208 S. Thompson Street.  Collect needed items at your church, business, or civic group and give the CBA a call at (910) 642-2155 to arrange for a pick-up of these collected items.  Send a check to help cover the shopping costs to the CBA and mark it “Backpack.” Donate on-line at the CBA website through PayPal at https://www.columbusbaptistnc.net/donate.html and mark the donation “Backpack.”  100% of all donations will go to purchased food and will stay right here in Columbus County.  

The motto for the Backpack Program is “Hunger doesn’t end on Friday.  If you are hungry, you can’t learn.” What a perfect way to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  Helping to feed 700 children over the weekends and give them a better opportunity to learn come Monday morning.  If you have any questions about the program, call Dave Heller at (910)-642-2155 

About Jefferson Weaver 1973 Articles
Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and he can be reached at (910) 914-6056, (910) 632-4965, or by email at [email protected].