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Beaver River Student Council seeking donations for backpack food program

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BEAVER FALLS — The Student Council at Beaver River Central School District is soliciting money and items for a backpack food program to assist needy students.

“There’s definitely a high need,” District Superintendent Leueen Smithling said. “It really does our hearts good to help out these families.”

Last year, in its inaugural campaign, about 50 students, recommended by their teachers, were assisted through the program, she said.

“People are most generous,” Mrs. Smithling said. “Food came in on a regular basis, and funds came in.”

Now, school officials are seeking donations to run the program for another school year.

“The Backpack Food Program will provide backpacks filled with healthy food choices for students over the weekend,” said a letter sent to local businesses and organizations concerning the program. “The meals provided are to encourage healthy eating habits for the families.”

Backpacks, distributed to children on Fridays, are filled with healthy, easy-to-prepare, nonperishable items such as fruit cups, juice, crackers, beef stew, ravioli, cereal, raisins, pudding, granola bars and tuna.

“As you can imagine, the cost of food adds up quickly, and we plan to offer this program to all students that attend Beaver River Central School,” the letter said.

The program alleviates the stress on parents to cover additional food costs on the weekends and assists with healthier eating, it added.

More than half of students at the school receive free or reduced-price lunches, and, since most students carry backpacks, the ones being helped through the program are not so conspicuous, Mrs. Smithling said.

“It’s a real easy way to help out,” she said.

The superintendent commended guidance counselor Shannon Bourcy and other Student Council advisers — Wanda Joslin, Tracy Adams and Rachael O’Brien — for organizing the effort in consultation with officials at other area schools that have established backpack programs.

“Those people really worked hard to get the program off the ground,” Mrs. Smithling said.

Donations can be dropped off in the office at the school’s main entrance, while checks can be sent to Beaver River Student Council, P.O. Box 179, Beaver Falls, N.Y. 13305.

A note should be written on the check to indicate it is for the backpack program.

Anyone seeking more information on the program can call Mrs. Bourcy at the school at 346-1211.

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