In an effort to reach the Troy community, Freshman Forum members are contributing to the Backpack for Kids program by volunteering at Head Start, a local government-run preschool.
“It’s on our backs to serve,” is a focus of Backpack for Kids, a project started last year by Freshman Forum Director Olivia Melton, a sophomore mathematics and economics major from Gulf Shores.
Backpack for Kids partners with Head Start to provide food for 60 pupils per week by collecting monetary donations and nonperishable food items. This amounts to a total of 120 dollars per week at only two dollars per bag.
Head Start is a government-run 3-to-5 year old school for 120 underprivileged children located right behind sorority hill.
“We don’t have to go travel across the world to make a difference; we can start right here in our own backyard,” said Melton.
Freshman Forum member Meredith Durden, a freshman business major from Montgomery, has volunteered at Head Start and realizes the importance of giving back to the community.
“Just as these kids give us love and encouragement, it is just as important for us to give back to them. Giving back unites the Troy community and strengthens our bonds of service and friendship,” Durden said.
Freshman Forum members were trained to pack the backpacks to be given to Head Start each week on Oct. 27 in Eldridge Hall. Each pack consists of two main course items, two fruits, two breakfast items and three snacks.
The kickoff for the program begins in November and will continue throughout the school year.
Cody Carroll, a freshman nursing major from Boaz and head of the community service committee for Freshman Forum, has a goal to move beyond what the Backpack for Kids program already offers.
“I want to expand beyond the food necessities to hygiene items and also offer more nutritional options for students. I am aiming for quality over quantity,” said Carroll.
Carroll said that she wants to increase student involvement and the number of students served as well as grow the Backpack for Kids program alongside Campus Kitchens, which launches Oct. 30 at 2:30 p.m. in the Trojan Dining Hall.
“I want to boost student involvement and not just tell students what to do, but to inspire them to do it,” said Carroll.
Campus Kitchens will donate leftover food from the Trojan Dining Hall to Head Start every week. This allows all 120 students of Head Start to be fed weekly.
“Alabama is number four in food hardship in America according to www.frac.org and Pike County is one of the poorest counties in the state. We have an abundance of college students who could help our community because it is our home,” said Melton
The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) “is the leading national nonprofit organization working to improve public policies and public-private partnerships to eradicate hunger and undernutrition in the United States,” according to the organization’s website.
Backpack for Kids is seeking support to help fund the program, and Melton encourages others to contribute and to serve at Head Start.
“I encourage all students to go to their organizations and ask to help donate so we can keep providing food over the weekend. And don’t just stop there, but also volunteer. Once you see and play with the kids, they become a part of you,” said Melton.
If you or your organization would be interested in donating please make checks out to Freshman Forum or drop off your donations to Eldridge Hall kitchen. For more information, please contact Olivia Melton at 251-504-1145 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.