Local church’s backpack program picks up by 40 percent in four years

BUCKHANNON – Since its establishment in 2014, Cornerstone Community Church’s backpack program created to provide Upshur County students with weekend necessities has grown 40 percent.

Currently, the “Feed the Hungry” backpack program serves students who attend Tennerton Elementary School, French Creek Elementary School, Union Elementary School and Buckhannon Academy Elementary School, according to organizer Donnie Tackett.

“As of right now, we provide for 273 students [giving them food] on Fridays in backpacks so they have some food to eat for the weekend,” she said.

Tackett said the service is offered consistently throughout the school year; however, students are given more food during holiday breaks.

Students will find a variety of foods and snacks that are ready-to-eat, such as soup, Chef Boyardee, canned goods, microwavable mac n’ cheese, applesauce, fruit cups, crackers, Pop-Tarts, pastries, Slim Jims and trail mix.

“Anything that is individually wrapped that we can put in there for the kids,” Tackett explained.

When the program first began, Tackett and her team were only serving Tennerton Elementary students. The next year, French Creek Elementary was tacked onto the list, followed by Union Elementary and Buckhannon Academy Elementary.

“And just over the last year, we’ve grown over 40 percent,” she said.

Since the first backpack was stuffed in 2014, Tackett said the program has expanded, and space at its current location, Cornerstone Community Church, is becoming limited.

“But the main thing we need right now, even if we got a bigger building, would be the continued support that we need as it grows,” she said. “That’s my main concern right now. No matter where we go, we’ll have to have [the support] to keep it going because I don’t want any kid going without.”

Tackett attributes the current growth of the program to the community’s financial support and donations.

“I just think it’s a blessing to even have this opportunity to help the kids in our area,” she said.

Looking forward, Tackett said she hopes the program can keep up with the needs in the community.

“So that even if it grows even bigger, that we’ll have the finances to serve all of the kids that we come in contact with,” she said.

Those looking to support the service through donations can do so by dropping off food at Cornerstone Community Church or by contacting Tackett for more information at 304-516-6432.

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