Feeding hungry children over the holidays
By MARY ANN HOLLEY
Officers, members and retirees of the Machinists Union District 9 recently hauled three truckloads of food to Warrenton serving as Christmas angels of sorts, bringing food to children who might otherwise have food for the Christmas vacation.
For the past several months, locals within District 9 have been collecting dry foods and canned goods at Union meetings in an effort to help children in the small town of Warrenton, an area that is statistically one of the poorest counties in Missouri.
Truck after truck made its way into the school yard at Rebecca Boone elementary school. Machinists officers like Tim Young helped unload the trucks as Operation Backpack organizers Cheryl Portillo and Marilyn Carter as the goods mounted.
"Some of our single parents are working minimum wage jobs or two jobs, and it's just not enough," says Carter. “And some are not from what is considered a needy family and that many are from middle-income families, but with a parent that may have been laid off or struggling with health issues.”
The BackPack Program meets the needs of hungry children by providing them with nutritious and easy-to-prepare food to take home on weekends and school vacations when other resources are not available. The program has doubled in size since it began, and maxed out at 100 students.
Carter says the demand grows greater each year.
The BackPack program operates on a 100-percent volunteer program and generally provides children with a small but nutritious selection of canned goods, fruit cups or whatever is on hand in the school’s small storage closet. The volunteers know who the students are and secretly place the food in their backpacks so they aren’t embarrassed in front of their classmates.