Dear Editor – Stepping Down as ‘Backpacks for Kids’ Leader

After 5 years, it is time for me to step down and let other wonderfully capable people run the Culver City Backpacks for Kids Program. Megan Rawls will continue as Coordinator, joined by the incredibly organized Connie Wong.

When Jerry Chabola and Leslie Gardner started this project back in December of 2013 we only had 50 backpacks to fill. 50 students from the pre-school through the high school and continuation school. We are now providing food for 200 students! We have 180 backpacks in circulation and a food closet to help out our 20 high school students.

This has been a labor of love and a lot of hard work. There is an army of volunteers from each of the elementary schools and the preschool who drop off and pick up backpacks every week. There are loyal volunteers who wait patiently for backpacks to be returned on Wednesdays, and stout-hearted volunteers who bring all of the full backpacks up to the front of the middle school for distribution. The Middle School Associated Student Body have been our Wednesday packers carefully putting the food into the backpacks. We would never have been able to pack so many backpacks without them. The students led by Monica Vielman have been fantastic.

I’d especially like to thank my husband, Bob Wallace and our friend David Stout for taking over the food shopping for that last so many years. Originally Leslie and I did all of the shopping with schlepping help from the ever dependable Jerry Chabola. David and Bob took over the shopping as our numbers increased cheerfully (at least some of the time) going to Costco, Jetro, Smart & Final, Trader Joe’s, and the 99 Cent store. Now the Energizer Bunny personified aka Kathy Vigil has taken over the shopping.

There has been tremendous support from the community for our twice-a-year food drives and even more importantly the monetary donations from individuals and organizations throughout Culver City.

We put $10 of food into every backpack meaning that our program would cost between $50,000 to $60.000/year if we had to buy everything. The outpouring of support from the community has meant that we have been able to reliably provide food for 5 solid years. Please keep those donations coming. We do not receive any money from any other sources and are dependent upon the good will and investment of our community through grants and donations.

Wednesday, Dec. 12 will be my last official day working with the Backpacks Program. I would like to personally thank everyone who has worked so hard and given so much to make this program a success.

I wish you happy holidays to all and here is to hoping that the New Year brings renewed promise and prosperity.

If you would like to donate to the program, please visit our website:www.c cbackpacksforkids.com

 

Jamie Wallace

www.culvercitysymphony.org

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