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Kiwanis Club getting ready for its backpack food program for kids

By Staff | Aug 3, 2011

With the 2011-2012 Lee County School District school year beginning on Monday, the Kiwanis Club of Cape Coral is gearing up to have another successful year in providing backpacks full of food for students.

Kiwanis foundation president Sam Huber said he plans on kicking off the program three to four weeks into the school year because teachers like to have time to find the kids who are in the greatest need. He said the teachers will generate a list of students and then send letters home to the parents to explain the program.

In addition, Huber said they hold off on beginning the program because the teachers want to get the students accustomed to school before they start handing out backpacks to them over the weekend.

The Kiwanis Club has a budget that can feed 1,500 kids through the backpack program.

Although the Kiwanis Club has already spent this year’s funds, Huber said the club’s new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. To keep the backpack program going without any problems, Huber said the club needs to raise $3,000 by the end of August.

“We will be able to continue through our planned budget year without any hiccups,” he said, if the additional funds are raised.

The backpacks are filled to the brim with seven pounds of food that costs $4.75 per child, including the cost of the gas to deliver it to the school.

Huber said a simple donation of $5 will feed a child for a week.

He said Community Cooperative Ministries Incorporated is the only organization that feeds more children than the Kiwanis do in Lee County.

“I couldn’t do it without the support from the Cape Coral community,” Huber said about keeping the backpack program afloat.

Any additional funds beyond the $3,000 raised will go towards expanding the program.

The backpack program will assist eight schools, one of which is a charter school this year. Although the club is providing services for the same schools, Huber said each school is providing more names of students who are in need of assistance.

“Every single school has upped the request,” he said. “I have requests of upwards of 3,000 bags.”

Huber said they are seeking donations because they want to pump as much money into the program as possible.

“We want to be able to serve more kids than last year,” Huber said. “To do that we need to raise more money … we have enough money to feed the bare minimum of kids.”

Those who want to make a donation can send a check to the Kiwanis Club of Cape Coral, P.O. Box 100006, Cape Coral, FL 33910. Huber said to make sure “backpack program” is written on the memo line of the check.

For more information, contact Huber at president@mycapecoralkiwanis.org.

A few fund-raisers are already in motion to help accumulate the funds for the backpack program.

Huber said starting Sept. 1 ticket sales will begin for the martini event the Kiwanis Club of Cape Coral hosts in January.

A golf tournament is also in the planning process, which is tentatively scheduled for the first or second week of September.

Huber began the backpack program two years ago in his living room because, after touring a school, he was amazed at how many hungry children there were in Lee County. On soup day, the students would stuff their pockets full of crackers so they would have something to eat on the weekend, he said.

This news led Huber down the path of making a difference for students in the Lee County School District.

Twenty-five backpacks were donated to Huber, along with $1,000 from the Kiwanis Club, to help kick off the program of filling backpacks full of food for students in 2009. Every time the club raised money, it allowed him to expand the program by offering assistance to more students. In no time at all, the program went from 25 backpacks to 200.

The program feed 1,000 students a week last year.