Kiwanis members, area students fill backpacks for needy children
Key Club members from Cape Coral High School and a student from Edison State College met Wednesday at the Kiwanis Club Thrift Store to help fill 50 backpacks with food. The backpacks will be delivered to Pelican Elementary School students today, due to no school Friday.
Sam Huber, secretary of the Kiwanis Club of Cape Coral and chairman of the Backpack Program, explained that 60,000 students in the Lee County public school system are currently on the free or reduced federal lunch program, which provides them with breakfast and lunch during school hours.
He said he discovered that many children on the federal lunch program are not eating when home during the weekends due to various reasons.
A partnership began last year with the Cape, after Huber decided to personally man an operation out of his house to fill backpacks full of enough food to feed three individuals for three days.
Huber expanded his operation this year with the help of the Kiwanis Club Thrift Store. He said he moved his backpack assembly line to the store Wednesday for the first time.
Every Wednesday night, high school students and college students, along with various Kiwanis Club members, meet at the thrift store to fill and deliver backpacks full of food in time for the weekend.
“We do want to be nutritious,” Huber said, adding that he loads the backpacks with foods containing high levels of carbohydrates and proteins.
He said they fill the backpacks with “things that kids will want to eat and is simple to operate and simple to make.”
The backpack program is currently providing 50 students with a bag full of food. Huber said they are providing the service to one elementary school, with the addition of two other schools in the near future.
“Hopefully we will be doing all the elementary and middle schools by the end of the year,” he said.
Cape Coral High School juniors Ivan Garcia and Nick Mullen said they found out about the program through the school’s Key Club.
“I think it’s great helping out people who don’t have enough food,” Garcia said.
“I think it’s great to help out kids who are less fortunate than us,” Mullen said.
Edison State College freshman Daniel McNaughton said he found out about the program through the Young Democrats of Lee County. He said the group has raised more than $2,000 for the program since February.
“I think it’s an awesome idea,” McNaughton said, adding that he thinks Lee County should step in to help provide the children with food.
Huber said he encourages the community to help make the backpack program possible by donating non-perishable foods, pastas, dry goods and canned meats.
“Please make donations of non-perishable foods to either one of the stores,” he said.
The Kiwanis Thrift Stores are located at 708 S.E. 47th Terrace and 652 S. Del Prado Blvd. For information, call 471-2324.