Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Backpack Buddies, sending home hope

P.A.L.S. Club, Woodville High School

Common sense tells us that nutritious food is essential for the mental and physical development of children. However, statistics show that many American children go hungry each and every day. In fact, 15.8 million children live in homes that do not have an adequate amount of nutritious food, according to the USDA.
Most educators can vouch for the old story that many children only get fed at school, but in 2012 Woodville High School student Alyssa Cosby had an idea to change all of that. Cosby says that the idea stemmed from the school's participation in Christmas Charities. "I was in Bible class and they were taking up money for a local family to help them buy Christmas presents for their child. I started thinking that if families needed help at Christmas that they probably needed help the rest of the year too," she said.

Cosby discussed the idea with her mother, and together they decided it would be a great idea to start a club that could help community members in need throughout the year. The name, they decided, should be P.A.L.S., Panthers Always Living Strong. 

Cosby wrote out her ideas for the club and presented them to one of her teachers, Mrs. Amanda Peek. "I went back at break that day and she informed me she loved the idea and encourage me to get others on board," Cosby said. 

Cosby spread the word to other students that they would need about sixty kids to make the project work. Before long the club had been created and officers had been elected. 

According to Cosby, at the first meeting, Mrs. Peek suggested the idea for "Backpack Buddies." The idea was to send bags of food home at the end of the week with students in need. "The idea was a major success and in its first year PALS helped around 30-50 kids in the school every weekend," Cosby said. 

Since P.A.L.S. was founded in 2012, the Backpack Buddies program has spread to other schools throughout Jackson County. In addition to Woodville High School, Skyline, Bridgeport Middle and Bridgeport Elementary schools all participate in this program and are able to send food home to around 175 students.

Backpack Buddies always accepts monetary or food donations. "The items we use are in individual packaging and are shelf stable. However, we do like to send fresh fruit whenever possible," Mrs. Peek said.

The following is a list of donation suggestions the group may accept for distribution:

Shelf-Stable Milk, Juice Boxes, Bottled Water, Cereal, Cereal Bars, Muffins, Macaroni & Beef Ravioli, Spaghetti &Meatballs,Beef Stew,Beans & Franks,Fresh Fruit,
Jerky/Cheese, Snack Cakes, Granola Bars, Rice Krispy Treats,Pudding Cups
Or, if you prefer you can sponsor an individual student for the following donation:  $15/month, $75/semester, $150/school year.

For more information please contact Amanda Peek at Woodville High School: 256-776-2874 ext. 3102 or peeka@jackson.k12.al.us

  *Photos courtesy of Amanda Peek

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