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Sun., Oct. 4
Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
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Back the Pack continues to serve elementary children


MASSENA — Organizers of the Back the Pack effort in elementary schools say it’s been another successful year.

“We’re at our maximum number of participants. There’s a maximum number only because of finances. It costs $3,000 a month to feed the 251 children we support,” committee Chairwoman Julianne C. Paquin said.

The volunteer program just completed its second year. Back the Pack was formed to ensure that children in Massena’s elementary schools aren’t going hungry over the weekend. The food is provided through private donations and fundraisers, which made it possible for the group to provide more than 9,000 packs during the 2012-13 school year.

Working at the former Arrow building on East Orvis Street, donated to the group by Massena Savings and Loan, Back the Pack members assembled healthy weekend snacks for students in kindergarten through sixth grade in Massena’s four elementary schools — Jefferson, Madison, Nightengale and Trinity Catholic.

The group gathers the items, puts them in Ziploc bags and distributes them to the schools. School counselors identify children in need and get authorization from parents to let the students participate. The teachers put the bags into the students’ backpacks every Friday so they have the snacks to munch on over the weekend.

Among the items the children find are breakfast bars, sandwich crackers, cereals, fruit cups, raisins and fruit punch.

“We handed out 9,027 packs this year,” Mrs. Paquin said.

Organizers would like to do more but lack of funding limits their efforts, she said.

The group has applied for nonprofit status, which will open more doors for it to raise funds, Mrs. Paquin said.

“We should have our 501(c) within the next couple of months. We’ve had a lot of help with that,” she said.

While the group waits for that approval, fundraisers will begin again in August. The Massena High School football team will be partnering with Back the Pack to sell sports cups as well as some new products this year.

The Massena Elks Lodge will sponsor a ’50s and ’60s dance Sept. 14, with all proceeds going to Back the Pack. The Italian-American Civic Association will hold a fundraising spaghetti dinner in October.

Back the Pack is always looking for volunteers. Its next meeting will be at 10:15 a.m. Aug. 7 at the former Arrow building on East Orvis Street.

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