The backpack program is sponsored by St. John's Lutheran Church of Purdy and employs the volunteer services of church members, other local church congregations, business and school organizations and individual community members.The church launched the backpack program in March 2010, servicing 12 children.
"We needed to start small to see how things would go and iron out any difficulties with operations," said Rebecca Schallert-Webb, program chairperson .
The program doubled its number of recipients in August 2010, servicing 24 children. It expanded again in January 2011 to meet the needs of 40 children throughout the remainder of the school year. The final expansion was made possible by a successful fundraiser.
"We were very pleased with the amount of money we raised and the willingness of various churches and community members to support the program," said Schallert-Webb.
The program continued to service 40 students during the 2011-12 school year.
Families must submit applications for acceptance into the program. Applications are reviewed by a 10-member committee consisting of representatives from the Purdy Board of Education, administration, faculty and staff.
"The committee chose 37 participants from this year's applications," said committee spokesperson Jeff Swadley. "We opted to reserve three spots for families with needs who move into the district during the school year or for families whose financial situations change during the course of the year."
|This year students who receive backpacks will also help with the assembly process. Church volunteers will pre-package six individual meals for all recipients, but the kids will stuff the bundled food items into the backpacks, and the AmeriCorps Reading Coaches will deliver them to classrooms for distribution.||Elementary Principal Jeff Swadley and the Reading Coaches will oversee this aspect of the operation. Swadley reported.||"I'm very excited to work with the kids on this project," said Swadley. "We will all enjoy our time together, learning how to help one another."|
Webb noted that funding for the program is always needed.
"We depend on the generosity of the entire community. The program costs approximately $10,000 per year to operate," said Webb.
Although a community fundraiser is not being planned at this time, community members can donate funds toward the backpack program operations. A checking account is established at First State Bank. Interested donors should make checks payable to the St. John's Lutheran Church Vision Leadership Backpack Fund.
Volunteers are also needed for the assembly of meal packs. For more information or to volunteer call Rebecca Webb at 417-737-0311.
"We count ourselves a blessed school district to be the beneficiaries of the kindness and support of the wonderful people at St. John's Lutheran Church, who are providing a great need for our children and their families," said Superintendent Steven Chancellor.