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Norfolk Fire Department raises funds for ‘Snack Pack’ program

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NORFOLK - A pass the hat collection at the Norfolk Volunteer Fire Department resulted in the donation of more than $250 for Norwood-Norfolk Central School’s “Snack Pack” program that provides healthy weekend snacks for students in grades pre-kindergarten through seven.

Tom McGrath, president of the Norfolk Volunteer Fire Department, said their by-laws limit their department’s donations to $50, so they passed a hat around and amassed $261, which was presented to Snack Pack Chair Mary Ellen Todd this week.

He said Bob Kerr, one of their members, had told them about the Snack Pack program and suggested a donation to the organization during their meeting this month.

“We were fortunate enough to have quite a few members at that meeting,” Mr. McGrath said, noting they average between 20 and 30 individuals at their meetings.

Ms. Todd said the money was greatly appreciated.

“That’s enough for one whole week for the children. That’s big to me,” she said.

Using donations like the one from the firefighters, a committee of volunteers organizes the program, shops for items, packs the snacks and works on fundraising efforts. Three people from the committee gather at Norwood-Norfolk each Thursday morning to sort the snacks and pack them in gallon-size plastic bags for distribution to the qualified students. Each committee member assists with packing the sacks approximately once a month.

Ms. Todd said they are providing weekend and holiday snacks to 130 Norwood-Norfolk students this year. Since its inception the program has expanded to include some of the upper grades, after they had a larger than normal group of fourth grade students take part in the program a couple of years ago.

“We decided we would just continue on” as the fourth graders moved up, she said.

The program isn’t limited to one child per family, Ms. Todd said. She noted that if one child in a family is on the list to receive the snack pack, they provide them to all the children in the household.

Their goal, she said, is to make sure that children are eating on the weekends and holidays when they’re not in school.

“The clincher is the first year we were doing it one of the kids came up and said, ‘I don’t know who’s giving me this food, but I don’t have any food on the weekend,’” she said.

Although the program falls under the auspices of the Norwood Kiwanis Club, allowing them to have 501(c)(3) non-profit status, it is funded solely by donations, according to Ms. Todd. They send letters out to the community and businesses soliciting donations, and the response has always been positive, according to the chairperson.

“People just open their hearts,” she said.

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