Ms. Dixie's Dream
Dixie Fahrubel, a Gordon Lee High School employee, came to me in the Spring of 2018 with a request to begin the Backpack Blessings Program in the Chickamauga City Schools. She had experienced the program by serving as a volunteer with her grandson who was earning service hours by packing meals for the Walker County Schools Backpack Blessings Program. Dixie was so impressed by the organized process and the compassion for the students who are served, that she felt moved to begin a program to serve students in the Chickamauga City Schools.
It has been quite a journey to gather the information, meet with the organizers, set up the framework/contracts, identify participants, schedule the volunteers…...but thanks to one person, our Ms. Dixie, and her desire to assist children in need, we are proud to announce we will begin the Backpack Blessings Program for students in Chickamauga Elementary and Gordon Lee Middle Schools in October.
Backpack Blessings is a program co-directed by the North Georgia Community YMCA, located at 1733-A, Battlefield Parkway in Fort Oglethorpe. The purpose of the program is to provide a weekend supply of food each Friday (or on the last day before a holiday). The program provides balanced meals consisting of non-perishable, ready to eat food items for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for those who might otherwise struggle to have enough food on the weekends. Larger meals are provided prior to holidays.
We will begin the Backpack Blessings program in our school system beginning the week of October 1st. Every other Tuesday we will need a minimum of six volunteers to “pack” the non-perishable food items. Volunteers can be faculty and staff members, community volunteers, or supervised high school students and groups. This would be a great way to earn service hours.
I have attached the packing schedule so you can see the packing dates. We do not pack on holidays, school breaks, or summers. The packing takes place at the Walker County AEC Center at 925 Osburn Road. Park in the upper parking lot and follow the signs to the Backpack Blessings lower entrance. The items packed will go to students enrolled in Chickamauga Elementary School and Gordon Lee Middle School. There will also be groups and volunteers packing for Walker County Schools at the same time we are there. We are very appreciative that we have been accepted to join this group. They have a well established routine in place that is extremely organized and effective. It will definitely assist us in getting our program off to a great start. On the scheduled packing days, volunteers need to arrive at 4:30 with packing beginning at approximately 5:00. The entire process typically takes about an hour.
New this year are dates for volunteers to help stock the shelves with foods from pallet deliveries. These are on the packing dates marked with an asterisk. If you or your group want to assist with this process, you would need to arrive at the AEC at 2:30. This process takes approximately an hour as well.
You may also notice the column on the schedule that says, “Special Item for Meal Bag.” If any group would like to include an item, it would need to be non-perishable and of a size suitable to fit into the bag. Some examples are: back to school pencils, blow pops, tooth brushes, etc.
The cost of the Backpack Blessings program is approximately $1.50 per week, per child. We will be fundraising between now and the end of November in an effort to raise enough funding to support the program costs. No amount of money is too small to donate. However, if you would like, $50.00 will sponsor a student for the entire school year. That means every week we have school, the child would receive a Backpack Blessings bag consisting of 7-9 non-perishable food items.
If you would like to make a donation, please make checks payable to Chickamauga City Schools and mark Backpack Blessings on the memo line. You can give the checks to the secretary at your school. All donations are tax deductible and will go to assist students in our school system. If you would like to volunteer, please let the school know and we will get you on the schedule. We hope this wonderful program will be a huge success and help many children.