Wyandotte’s Blessings in a Backpack received a big boost recently when Novi-based International Transmission Co. awarded a $10,000 grant to the program.
The grant covers half of the $20,000 that it costs to run the program each year at Garfield Elementary School, said Wyandotte Blessings in a Backpack Committee Chairwoman Dana Browning, who also is a Wyandotte Board of Education trustee.
The program, which began in 2011 in Wyandotte, allows students who qualify for free or reduced lunches to take home a backpack filled with enough food for three meals per day on the weekends. Volunteers fill the backpacks with nonperishable and easy-to-prepare items, such as macaroni and cheese, canned soup or cereal.
Families must request the assistance to ensure that it's going to those truly in need. Of the 200 eligible students at Garfield, Browning said, 125 have opted to receive the backpacks every weekend so far this school year.
The $10,000 grant was presented to the North Woodward Community Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides groups, such as Blessings in a Backpack, with a venue for receiving donations.
“There are 2,446 children in Wyandotte on the free and reduced lunch program, many of whom do not receive sufficient meals or nutrition over the weekends,” Tom Kaszubski, executive director of North Woodward Community Foundation, said in a written statement. “This generous donation will help us expand our Blessings in a Backpack program in Wyandotte and provide children with the nourishment needed for successful learning.”
Once Blessings in a Backpack has the proper funding, Browning said, the program would begin operating in other Wyandotte schools. Monroe Elementary School is slated for assistance next as it has the second-highest number of students on free or reduced lunches, Browning said.
In a written statement, ITC Michigan President Gregory Ioanidis said his company is dedicated to working with the cities it serves to help children receive the nourishment they need to be healthy.
“ITC understands the importance of health, wellness and education and we’re happy to help provide children with the food they need to enhance their education and remain healthy overall," he said.
In addition to the nonprofit grants, ITC also assists first responders in many area communities. Recently the company made its to the Wyandotte Police Department to help fund community outreach programs.
To donate to Wyandotte’s Blessings in a Backpack, visit blessingsinabackpackmi.org, call the North Woodward Community Foundation at 734-740-7600 or contact Browning at 734-283-5670.