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Thank you for support of backpack program

To the editor:

Thank you for providing this forum to express appreciation.

In the United States, more than 11 million children (one in seven) may not know where they will get their next meal. Undernourished children face higher risks of conditions like anemia and asthma. They are more likely to have developmental impairments, academic and behavioral problems in school and difficulties in other social situations. (feedingamerica.org) This is why the Summer Backpack Program of the Juniata County Food Pantry and similar programs are vital.

The Summer Backpack Program has completed its fifth season of providing lunches to eligible students residing in our county. A total of 194 students registered for our program throughout June, July, and August, totalling 8,140 lunches distributed.

Students in grades K-8 who would typically receive free or reduced-price lunches during the school year were eligible to participate. A lunch consists of an entree, a fruit, a snack and either a juice box or milk. Students could come to the pantry once during each of the three summer months to receive a box of 20 lunches. When extra items were offered to pantry clients, they were given to our students, as well. During August, school supplies were also available due to the kindness of generous supporters of our program.

On May 11 and 18, we held our kick-off “Stuff the Bus” events at Schlegel’s and Weis grocery stores in Thompsontown and Mifflintown. Thank you to the management of these stores for allowing us to utilize their locations. Thank you to Helen Casner for again providing us with the use of her bus to visualize our mission. And thank you to the many charitable donors who provided us with the most financial support and food items to date. Having that initial backing is both a blessing and encouragement! Donor names have been prominently displayed on a bus in the food pantry’s vestibule all summer.

Thank you to Carrie Jacobs, Sue Lukens, Trudy Ober, Treva Seiler and Steve and Jan Manbeck for overseeing our kickoff events! And thank you to MERF Radio and Deb Brackbill of The Times for attending our events and publicizing them!

My appreciation is extended to the following who provided valuable financial support and/or donations of food and/or school supplies throughout the summer: Pine Grove United Methodist Church S.H.A.R.E. Committee, Matamoras United Methodist Church, Kathy Brown, Janette Gentry, Scott and Carrie Jacobs, East Salem United Methodist Church, KNA Properties/Paul and Karen Arnold, Jim and Brenda Clark, Lost Creek Presbyterian Church, McAlisterville United Methodist Church, Sandra Miller, Delta Kappa Gamma Society, Messiah Lutheran Church, Pat Davis, Barb Geedey, Bunkertown Church of the Brethren, William and Linda O’Brien, Thompsontown United Methodist Church, Port Royal Presbyterian Church, Sue Lukens, Lower Tuscarora Presbyterian Church, Aldersgate United Methodist Church Vacation Bible School, Locust Run United Methodist Church and many anonymous donors.

A special thank you goes to Rich and Sherry Burkholder, Bob Davis, Brenda Lotz and Louise Campbell from Aldersgate Methodist Church and Sue Lukens from East Salem United Methodist Church who packed 80 boxes on May 29 to get us ready for June’s registration.

Additionally, many volunteers donated time in registering students and distributing food boxes to them. Your love of children and your unselfish commitment of time are deeply appreciated! Thank you Linda Clark, Luke Showers, Julie Hart, Deb Goshorn, Linda Zimmerman, Linda Seigler, Cheryl Blymier, Cecilia Moreno, Linda Leister, Darin Kint, Pamm Feltman, Barb Geedey and Sydney Houtz. A special thank you goes to Sue Lukens for her amazing organizational skills, work ethic and genuine enthusiasm that she brought to the program again this year.

Thank you to the staff and regular volunteers of the food pantry who willingly accommodated the added traffic and scheduling necessary to support this valuable program during regular business hours. Your efforts made our mission more manageable for our clients and all students.

Many find strength in those who lead by example and inspiration in those who live what they declare. Whether it is Jesus’ words telling us to feed his sheep (John 21:17), love one another (John 13:34), and care for the least of these (Matthew 25:40), or Mother Teresa saying, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples,” such words encourage me to serve. At the Juniata County Food Pantry, I have found others who choose to “cast a stone across the water.” To that end, our shared goal is to serve the residents of Juniata County. Please join us!

Thank you!

Patricia E. Brown

Summer Backpack

Program Coordinator

Juniata County Food Pantry

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