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Blessings in a Backpack still feeding the children

For the sixth year, a small group of community volunteers is working to ensure children throughout Lincoln County don’t go hungry on the weekends.

Working through the Blessings in a Backpack organization, Betty Williams said the volunteers are serving more than 270 local children each week, with a goal of serving 300 per week next year.

“Children do not choose their circumstances,” Williams said, explaining that poverty and hunger can cause behavioral and attention issues for children.

And for as little as $110 per student per school year, Blessings in a Backpack can help alleviate those issues.

Brookhaven and Lincoln County schools serve nearly 3,000 students, and of those 75% in Brookhaven and 57% in Lincoln County qualify for the federal free and reduced lunch program.

“We work with the schools, who identify the students in need,” Williams said, explaining that prepackaged food kits are distributed each Friday to those students and prior to holiday breaks.

Volunteers, led by committee members Williams, Wanda Fernald, Susan Hood and Virginia Starks, prepare the bags each Thursday and deliver to the schools. Williams says the community-wide effort has drawn dozens of volunteers in the past, although COVID-19 changed the number of active volunteers.

Local volunteers are currently raising funds for the 2021-2022 school year, with a goal of $30,000 to feed 300 students.

“All of our funding comes from local donations and grants,” Williams said. “And $110 feeds a student for one year.”

Funds are administered through the national Blessings in a Backpack organization, a 501(c)3 non-profit based in Louisville, Kentucky, and First United Methodist Church in Brookhaven serves as the local home of the group.

Anyone interested in donating can mail checks to Blessings in a Backpack, care of 649 Virginia Ave NE, Brookhaven, Mississippi, 39601. Make checks payable to Blessings in a Backpack, and on the memo line write “Brookhaven Schools.”

Donations can also be made online at www.blessingsinabackpack.org, making sure that the donation is credited to the Brookhaven-Lincoln County program.

“It’s turned into a community outreach project and we’re happy with it,” Williams said. “It’s really worked out well.”

For more information call Williams at 601-757-3236.