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Backpacks full of food make sure kids don’t go hungry over weekends, breaks

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Area backpack program organizers dedicated to making sure kids don’t go hungry after the final bell rings are seeking donations from the community.

Wendy M. Jacobs, of Lisbon, said the Lisbon Backpack program is still as popular as it was when it began three years ago. The program has managed to help up to 25 children in 12 families each week for the past three years.

“I wanted to do something to give back to my hometown, and I thought the school was a great place to get involved,” Ms. Jacobs said Tuesday. “I have a little boy, and it broke my heart to think that some children don’t have enough to eat. It’s so basic.”

The food in the bags is easy for little hands to make on their own-from peanut butter on English muffins to macaroni and cheese. There are even granola bars for dessert.

“We try to keep it as healthy as possible for the kids,” Ms. Jacobs said.

Donations to the Lisbon Backpack program can be made by contacting Lisbon Central School Librarian and fellow backpack program organizer Rachel Livingston at 393-4951.

Operation Backpack is run entirely by teachers and staff members at Grant C. Madill Elementary School, 800 Jefferson Avenue. It supports 65 students in 35 families in Ogdensburg during winter, mid-winter and spring breaks from school.

Bags filled with donated food items are discreetly distributed to participating students and contain enough food for breakfast, lunch and snacks during each of the three weeks they are off during the school year.

It takes about three days to pack all the groceries for 65 children. But it is well-worth the smiles they get, organizers said.

“For many of the kids, the most nutritional meals they get are lunch and breakfast at the school,” Molly Sargeant, Operation Backpack organizer said. “It’s so important for their health and well-being that we keep that going when they are not there.”

All the programs are confidential.

“Other kids don’t know the difference, all they see is a kid carrying a bag of food out of the school, but for the kids that receive it, it means the world to them,” program organizer Barbie Mallott said.

Donations to Madill’s program can be made by contacting the school at 393-7729. The program is also run by Amy Lemke.

The Hammond Backpack program is seeking donations of macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, instant potatoes, spaghetti and sauce, tuna fish, canned chicken, instant oatmeal, and canned fruits and vegetables. For more information or to donate food or funds, contact Shirley R. Bogart at 324-6598. The program is also organized by Cathy Dorr and Barbara Neuroth.

Each of the backpack programs received a $100 donation and $307 worth of non-perishable food items from Elks Lodge No. 772 in Ogdensburg Tuesday. The club hopes to support the programs with a donation each year, Esteemed Leading Knight Valerie M. Testani said.

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