HANCOCK — A strong attendance from good Samaritans in the Keweenaw will ensure that area school age children will have plenty of nourishment through the upcoming school break. 31 Backpacks, a Copper Country based non profit organization keeps area children fed during the school year and with an extended break from school, they call on area volunteers who stepped up last night for the annual “Big Pack.”
It’s well known throughout the Keweenaw that organizations like 31 backpacks fill a gap in a broken system. Statistics show that 1 in 7 people in the United States struggle with hunger. With rising energy costs, plus the seasonal expense of home heating this time of year, it’s not hard to see why families would have a hard time putting food on the table.
“Someone at the school identifies the students that need a hand up and that determines how many bags we’re going to pack for what we call the Big Pack,” said Laurel Maki, co-founder of 31 Backpacks
Each week a dozen or so make time to fill grocery kits. The kits then get delivered to local schools, and go home with those who need them. This gives those children meals through the weekend. For many students , this Friday will be the last day of school until after the first of the year, meaning that those who depend on the school menu, would be additionally malnourished. So each year before Christmas Vacation begins for area students, the group has it’s celebratory distribution event at Glad Tidings Church, in Hancock.
“Volunteers have packed 840 thirteen gallon backs in 21 minutes. Each student will get 5 bags and a loaf of bread.”
More than 150 anonymous children receive help from the organization, that depends solely on volunteers.
“We never know how many are going to show up. And were always so surprised and so pleased that the community gets it. And they show up.”
These groceries will be enough to feed each student over the vacation period and once school resumes, it’s back to regular operations for the nonprofit organization, providing weekend care packages for the children.
“I don’t know what we would do with out our volunteers. Every week for packing, for delivery, for picking up the food at the food bank. There’s a lot of people involved in keeping this going. Without the volunteers we wouldn’t be able to do it.”