HAMLET – In a few weeks, Richmond County’s Backpack Pals program will be in full swing. Backpack Pals is a nationally recognized program created to ensure needy students have food to eat over the weekend.
Needy students are identified at each school, usually through school social workers, guidance counselors, and teachers. The program is administered through Helping Hands of Hamlet, a 501c3 nonprofit organization. Pastor Steve Crews, of Church of God of Prophecy, is the volunteer director of the program, which serves all schools in the county, including Sandhills Children’s Center.
“The community has been good to us,” Crews said. “It’s pretty much a community effort.”
The Backpack Pals program has been successful in helping our local students. By the end of last school year, 625 bags per week were being given out, with 10-11 food items in each bag.
The McLaurin Vocational Center in Hamlet has provided the group with a warehouse in which to store and bag food. All the bags are packed and delivered to schools by volunteers. Retired military men and women in the county from the VFW Post 4203, Merchant Marines, and AMVETS rotate making the deliveries.
“We have to purchase food, fuel, and pay for maintenance on the truck, but that’s it,” Crews said. “Volunteers do all of the work.
“I wish there wasn’t a need for this type of program in our county, but I’m glad we’re here to help fill that need.”
For more information about the program, visit their Facebook page: Backpack Pals Richmond County