At its regular meeting Wednesday, Oct. 9, the Rose Township Board of Trustees heard a presentation on “Blessings in a Backpack” by Karen Gietzen-Stewart, the founder of the effort.
In her advance letter to the board, she described Blessings in a Backpack as a “wonderful community-based program that helps children at risk for hunger in Rose Township and in the other communities of Holly Area Schools.”
Blessings in a Backpack provides a “backpack” of food each Friday to children at risk for hunger on the weekends. A little over $100 feeds one child each weekend for the entire school year, providing six meals each weekend.
Gietzen-Stewart said in Michigan, food is purchased at or below cost from Meijer. In Holly Area Schools, there are over 1,300 children that qualify for the Federal Free/Reduced Meal program at school during the week who are eligible for this program.
“In the fall of 2015 we piloted the program at Holly Elementary, feeding 91 students each weekend,” Gietzen-Stewart said. “Today, we are providing weekend food for approximately 420
children, offering the program at all four Holly elementary schools and the middle school.”
In order to offer the program at these schools, Blessings in a Backpack organizers must raise more than $45,000 each year, which they do through fundraisers.
Gietzen-Stewart asked the Rose Township Board to join them at fundraisers and help spread the word. She said “the need is great and 100 percent of all funds raised stay here in Rose Township and other Holly Area Schools communities to help our children.”
The Holly group is part of a statewide organization Blessings in a Backpack Michigan, which has approximately 14 chapters in the state.
Like many non-profit organizations, this group survives with the help of volunteers.
The group raises approximately $45,000 annually, which creates 110,000 meals for children over the course of the school year. This is made possible by several fundraising mechanisms such as a golf outing, murder mystery show, bowling event and trivia night.
Upcoming fundraiser is murder mystery dinner
The CLUE Mystery Dinner will be held Friday, Oct. 18 in the ballroom at 59 West, 786 Highland Rd., Highland, from 6 to 10 p.m. Open bar and CLUE gathering will begin at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and open bar at 7 p.m. Costumes are encouraged but not required. Cost is $50 per person, which includes mystery performance, dinner, beer, wine and soft drinks. For tickets, contact LaChelle Lemmons at email@example.com.