A week before the Thanksgiving holiday, members of the Cassville Community Foundation were in a giving mood. The organization announced the awarding of its first-ever grant in the amount of $500 to the Cassville Primary and Intermediate School's Back Pack Program.
In its second year of operation, the Back Pack Program is a nutrition program for kindergarten through fifth graders that provides back packs filled with nutritious food that are sent home with children each weekend.
Each back pack contains enough food for two breakfasts, two snacks and four lunch/dinners. All foods are prepackaged into individual servings, and all items are ready to eat and do not require refrigeration or heating.
The back packs are sent home with students on Friday afternoons and returned to the school on Monday for redistribution the next weekend.
According to Kristie Preddy, primary school counselor who organized the program, the school is sending home about 15 to 20 back packs each week.
"I heard about Springfield's program and I wanted to offer the same program here in Cassville," said Preddy.
Principal Catherine Weaver loved Preddy's idea and has supported the project since it began in October of 2007. The program is completely supported by donations and volunteer help.
Each week, a group of moms, who Preddy calls the "Back Pack Moms," gather together to fill the back packs in preparation for the weekend. These moms include: Kristine Samuel, Kara Fletcher, Angela Matthews, Janna Anthonysz, Bettie Holman, Shelli James, Terry Allen, Cheri Shumaker and Cindy Ray.
"These moms basically do all the work," said Preddy. "My moms unpack and organize the food and then pack the food in the back packs on Friday. They're the life blood of this program."
Preddy said community support is another key component to the success of the Back Pack program.
"There's been no calling or asking for funds," said Preddy. "The community just keeps sending me money. I'm just overwhelmed with the support this program has received.
"It's incredible that in these hard economic times, our community supports this program without question," added Preddy.
In conjunction with last Friday's grant presentation, Community Foundation board members announced that two local businesses had made significant contributions to the Foundation's ongoing Cooper Challenge fundraising drive.
Hutchens Construction and Willis Insurance made donations to the Foundation that will be matched dollar for dollar under the Cooper Challenge initiative. To date, the Cassville Foundation has raised $10,750 toward its goal of $25,000, which will ultimately produce a total of $50,000 for the local community.
The Harry Cooper Supply Company Campaign of the Ozarks Challenge is being offered to regional affiliates of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, which serves as the Cassville Community Foundation's umbrella organization.
At the start of the Cooper Challenge fundraising campaign, which began on Oct. 30, the Cassville Community Grantmaking Endowment Fund totalled $33,982.30. It was from this fund that the grant to the school's Back Pack Program was made.
All donations made to the Foundation through the Cooper Challenge will benefit the grant-making endowment fund. Interest from this fund will continue to be used to support local community groups and their projects.
The Cassville Foundation Board includes Landon Fletcher, Susie Jacobs, Phil Hutchens, Mike McCracken, Dennis Baker, Angela Seymour, Gary Fields, Jerry Marple and Dan Angel. Amy White serves as the Foundation's secretary.
For more information about supporting Cassville School's Back Pack Program, contact Preddy at 847-2445 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Cassville Community Foundation, contact any of the board members.