Group makes hefty donation to Backpack Program

The Acteens from the First Baptist Church in Richmond donated 1,279 items to the Backpack Program to help students in the Richmond School District. Acteens is the youth program for girls from grades seven to twelve that meets each Wednesday evening at the church.
On Monday, Feb. 9, Acteen girls began what turned into several trips from their vehicles to carry boxes of food, including pasta, fruit snacks and cups, snack cakes, canned soups and stews, individual cereals, crackers, jello, boxed juices and many more items into Sunrise Elementary in Richmond.
“We began discussing doing this five weeks ago,” said Acteen leader Wendy Coldwell. “We typed a letter and took them door to door down College and Thornton streets on Jan. 21.”
The group went back on their next meeting, Jan. 28, and picked up the sacks containing donated food.
“We’ve been really surprised at the response,” said Coldwell. “We’ll continue to put fliers out from time to time.”
“Many girls expressed they didn’t realize Richmond had so many people in need,” Coldwell continued. “There’s a great need at all of the schools, but the older students get embarrassed to say anything.”
Julie Hyder, who assisted with the formation of the Backpack Program last spring is happy that as of late last week the program is expanding into the middle and high school. This was largely due to having more food, and money for food, being donated to the program.
The girls were happy to help in this effort.
“If I didn’t go home with any food, I’d want someone to help me,” said Cassie Kinnard. “That’s what we’re here for.”
“I’m glad we’re doing this,” said Haley Hooks. “I like helping kids that need our help.”
“I’m grateful I have food to eat, because I love food,” exclaimed Jessica Waters.
“I am very, very proud of all the kids for putting their time in to think about the needs of others,” said Coldwell. “I believe this has been a humbling experience for all of us.”
Acteen leader Veronica Shrierman said, “It’s what Jesus would want us to do.”
The issue of hunger, and the effects it has on students and their ability and motivation to learn, was first brought to light last spring when the first article on the Backpack Program appeared in The Daily News.
The program was first implemented at Sunrise Elementary, and this year included Dear Elementary. Hyder is excited to see it now including RMS and RHS. She expressed her thanks to the Acteens and to the community for so much overwhelming support.
If you would like to donate to the Backpack Program, contact Julie Hyder (Sunrise) 816-776-3059, Debbie Heil (Dear) 816-776-5401, Tammy Wright (RMS) 816-776-5841, or Courtney Swafford (RHS) 816-776-2226.
Photo: The Acteen girls of First Baptist Church in Richmond placed flyers in several neighborhoods requesting food for the Backpack Program that has just expanded to include Richmond Middle School and Richmond High School. They collected 1,279 items that took several trips to carry into Sunrise Elementary where they presented it. Left to right: Acteen leader Veronica Shrierman, Trysten Bever, Cassie Kinnard, Jessica Waters, Haley Hooks, Acteen leader Wendy Coldwell and Sunrise Assistant Principal Justin Mefferd. (Photo by Brenda Jensen/The Daily News)

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