GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Eighty dollars may not mean much to some people, but for a program in Marshall County, it goes a long way in making sure school kids don’t go hungry on the weekends. WHNT NEWS 19 Pays it Forward to Blessings in a Backpack.
From empty to elaborate, dozens of volunteers man long tables and stuff food into bags.
“It’s a well-oiled machine,” describes Wendy Griffin, Blessings in a Backpack program coordinator.
Oatmeal, granola bars, mixed fruit and cereal are just some of the items that go into the bags. The bustling, weekly operation at Guntersville Church of Christ is for a sole purpose.
“To make a difference in the life a child,” says Griffin.
Over 1,000 children in six Marshall County schools get the bags each week to take home. Griffin knows what it’s like to need help. Her family was once on the receiving end of this program.
“We weren’t hungry, but there was no extra,” explains Griffin.
Now, she’s making sure other kids get the extras they need.
“They get gummy bears, Hi-C drinks, popcorn, ravioli and the things that children love and could easily open for themselves,” says Griffin.
There are some favorites.
“The Slim Jims are new this year,” says Griffin. “The kids love the Slim Jims.”
Popcorn is popular too and so is the environment, which draws people in.
“If people come to a pack, they’re hooked,” says Griffin. “They love seeing the difference.”
Celeste Stapler and a group of students from the Guntersville Middle School Beta Club came.
“We’re going to be doing this throughout the year,” explains Stapler. “We’re hoping to come at least once a month with a group of students. It’s something that’s easy. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but it has a lot of impact on students in our community.”
Something else that will have a big impact is $319 in Pay it Forward cash.
“Woo hoo!” shouted Griffin, after receiving the money. “That’s exciting!”
The $319 will feed four children for an entire school year, which is 38 weeks.