The Backpack Coalition

The Backpack Coalition

Feeding Round Rock's Future

The Wakeup Call

Earlier this week, a middle school counselor approached me. The guardian for a family of siblings had called her asking how to get all the children in the family enrolled to receive ‘weekend backpacks’ of food from our organization. My immediate reaction was indignation: We are not an entitlement program that parents can ask for; ours is meant to be a program for the students a school’s faculty recognizes as being most at risk for weekend hunger.

God, forgive me for that... internal reaction and thanks for the fact that I didn’t voice it; in the next moment I was shamed by it.

It seems two of the children are elementary students being served by our program, the other three are in middle- and high school. Every weekend, they have been watching the younger ones come home with food and eat while they are hungry, too.

This is the reality and the pain of poverty in this nation and, shamefully, it is mostly hidden from view and just as quickly judged as I did…and I’m someone who should know better. No matter how a child winds up in this position, no matter why the parents or guardians can’t or don’t provide, these are the innocents who pay for that mistake or shortcoming.

This is only one story of the many I know, only one family. Giving Tuesday is December 1 this year. Join me in making sure ALL the children eat this weekend and the next. The Backpack Coalition does more than fill bellies, it offers hope and heart connections through the volunteers who touch these lives and that touch ours in return. And it offers the very real possibility that we can Feed the Future and change lives, now and in the years to come.

Is $5 a week too much to pay for that possibility? I don’t think so.

Kathy Ford
Backpack Coalition Chair 

Our Newest Volunteers

We want to give a shout out to ALL our faithful volunteers, but in particular our newest ones:

ROUND ROCK CHAPEL - in addition to sponsoring our Backpack House, as they have so graciously done from the start, they now take a team in to serve the students in Berkman Elementary.  Thank you, Deborah and Patrick!!

RRISD VISTA WEST - Vista is a branch of RRISD offering, as I understand it, life skills training to physically and mentally challenged students up to age 21.  The VISTA east group has been a volunteer with our program for the last year picking up the Friday distributions for Caldwell Elementary (partnered with St. John Vianney Catholic Church).  This year, Sally Humphries and her VISTA West group is performing the same service for Wells Branch Elementary (partnered with SonRise/First United Methodist Round Rock).  Sally, many thanks and hugs to the young men and women in your program!

Do you know all our partners?  Perhaps your church or business participates; check it out!

St. John Vianney Catholic Church - Caldwell Elementary         Gateway Church - Voigt Elementary

Round Rock Christian Academy - Vic Robertson Elementary   Fellowship Round Rock - Gattis Elementary

Church of the Hills - Bluebonnet Elementary                                 First United Methodist Church - Wells Branch Elementary

Dell Computers - Neysa Callison Elementary                               Grace Lutheran - Deepwood Elementary

Round Rock Chapel - Berkman Elementary                             Palm Valley Lutheran - Union Hill & Doublefile Elementaries

 Volunteering at the Backpack House and supporting us financially:  His Aim Church Round Rock, Westside Church of Christ, Emerson Electric.

We have more students to feed and at least two schools that need sponsoring organizations; we're also looking to expansion into Pflugerville.  Where do you fit into our picture?  Contact us today!




Funniest Story of 2013

This one has to win a prize!  In an earlier blog, I told you about the high school cross country team that picks up our supplies for the Backpack House.  One night last spring, the manager on duty at the HEB Plus on 79 got a phone call from a resident in the area.  The resident was frantic to tell the manager, "Quick!  You need to go to the back doors of the store - there's a bunch of teenagers ripping you off; no, really, they're loading up trucks full of stuff!".  We've all gotten such a laugh out the image of those students who work so hard for us 'burglarizing' the HEB!!



A Ministry within a Ministry

It's very easy when you are passionate about any "cause" to fail to see beyond your group and its needs, what it's doing and accomplishing.  One of the things I truly love about the Backpack Coalition is that it inspires others, it gives those of us directing this wonderful effort a chance to offer growth and opportunities to others.  Take for instance:

  • We've grown to the point that by last year one or two volunteers were not going to be sufficient to pick up the food needed from our suppliers each week.  At the same time, I was approached to offer some kind of volunteer effort to a high school cross country club.  That volunteer organized the most amazing corps of strong, willing young people to pick up our groceries on a bi-weekly basis; this usually means anywhere from 10 to as many as 30 kids with pick ups and SUVs caravaning to the Backpack House.  Along the way, they earn service hours (a requirement for their Cross Country Team letter jacket) and a sense of giving back to their community.  For us, the benefits are immeasurable:  These kids are positive, motivated and work very hard for us; we simply couldn't do it without them!
  • We have made HEB virtually our sole supplier; if you shop at the HEB Plus store on Palm Valley (79), please make it a point to ask for Scott or the Store manager on duty to THANK THEM.  What they have given us in price matching, enabling us to shop just with them, has dropped the kit price $1.42 from what we started out with originally.  With no loss to contents or quality. 

But I digress.....last year, I was approached by the Round Rock High School Choir Boosters:  As a fund raiser, they sell HEB gift cards.  They purchase the cards at a discounted rate, then sell them for face value retaining a small percentage as their fund raiser.  We've often thought of doing this ourselves, but didn't want to lay out the $40,000 at a time required to get 5%.  Instead, we buy them through the Choir Boosters, dollar for dollar, and they earn about 3% on our $12-14,000 per month in purchases.  For them, this is a huge boost (ouch! Pardon my pun!); for us, it's not much additional effort to help a fellow non-profit.  A good way to share resources.

Do you have a matching grant opportunity at your office?  Are you looking for a service project, as are many other organizations approaching us?  We want to help you with your desire to reach out into the community!   Feeding children, helping them grow up to be successful, speaks to ALL of us.  Let us know how we can help YOU.


Srpring Cleaning for Back to School

We worked today to complete some cleanup begun with an excellent workday 8/10, a First United Methodist Faithworks event.  As we wrapped up the painting and spiffing on our Backpack House, I thought about how we always cleaned out the closets, tried on school clothes to see what would fit for the new year, made lists of what my children needed and shopped before school started.  We're right there now, getting ready for this school year with our Backpack program; the expansion construction will wrap up this week, the first grocery delivery arrives on Thursday with another, larger one on Tuesday next week and the first backpack kits go to the students on September 13.  It will be exciting to see some of our old friends (this will be year four for us at Wells Branch Elementary) and to meet new, incoming students.  I love to see the changes, growing taller over the summer, growing up. 


It makes me very happy to be a part of Feeding Round Rock's Future.  Thank you to all of you out there that make this intense volunteer effort possible:  It couldn't be done without you and without your support.   Check our blog regularly for updates and spotlights on many of you who work with us!

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