Photo by Derek Wiley
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in The Dalles is responsible for filling up backpacks during March with two breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners for children who don’t have enough food over the weekend.
As of Friday, March 25, 2016
The Community Backpack program keeps expanding.
Started with high school students in the spring of 2012, the program, which helps kids who don’t have enough food over the weekend, grew into the middle school the following January and then to the elementary schools in 2014.
Earlier this month, co-coordinators Glenis Schreffler and Linda Elsberry, along with many more volunteers, filled up six more backpacks — each with two breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners for kids at one of the four programs at the Wahtonka Campus.
Schreffler hopes to soon deliver to all four programs.
“All four have been invited,” she said. “They just haven’t identified kids yet.”
Supported by eight churches and two sororities, the backpack program served 1,050 meals, had 28 volunteers, sent out 2,181 pounds of food and had another 762 pounds donated in February.
Each church is assigned a month to serve. A group of volunteers fills up backpacks on Thursday at First United Methodist Church, which are then picked up by each school Friday between 1:30-2 p.m. LDS, Ward 1 had February and St. Paul’s Episcopal has March.
“It’s truly an ecumenical, community program, even though it’s housed here, the Methodists don’t claim it,” Schreffler said. “It just got started here and has grown with the community.
“It’s well supported. People don’t want to see kids hungry.” The program is also “spirit led.”
Schreffler said every time Elsberry and her talk about a problem, they get a solution.
Last summer, when they needed to replace backpacks but didn’t want to use donated money meant for food, Schreffler received a call from John Adams. He had a $1,000 check, courtesy of the Masons, and didn’t care how the money was spent.
Schreffler and Elsberry then went to Staples.
“The manager there was an absolute delight and gave us a big discount on our backpacks and we were able to replace a good portion, about half,” Schreffler said.
Another time, a former member of the First United Methodist Church in The Dalles was in town and asked Schreffler what she needed for the program.
When she said a freezer, he told Schreffler to go buy it and send her the receipt.
“Every thought that we’ve had is answered. I’m thinking we might talk about a Cadillac,” Schreffler joked.
Donations of money or food can be dropped off at First United Methodist Church, 305 E.11th St., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Cash or checks can also be mailed—make checks out to Community Backpack Program—and food can also be delivered during non-office hours in a drop box located in the church parking lot, which was built by the Calvary Baptist men’s group—Fix it for Him.