Backpack Pals, an organization that sends backpacks full of food home with children who would otherwise go hungry, had to cut back the number of children they serve in Richmond County due to decreased donations, their only source of funding.
This Saturday, Short Stacks for Big Change, an event being held at FATZ Cafe on East Broad Avenue in Rockingham, aims to change that. The event is a pancake breakfast that includes pancakes, sausage links, maple syrup, butter, mixed fruit, coffee, tea, orange juice or milk. Adult tickets are $7 and children younger than 6 eat free, limit one free child per adult ticket. Breakfast will be served from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Tickets can be purchased at BB&T banks in Richmond County, as well as at Vector Shirts at 37 E. Hamlet Ave., in Hamlet. Tickets can also be purchased at the door on Saturday.
“This is our big public fundraiser of the year,” said Kim Lindsey, scheduler for Backpack Pals. “We had to reduce the number of children we serve this year because donations are down. Normally we are (serving) in the 400s, but this year we are not breaking 400 because we’ve had to scale back.”
Lindsey explained that a child, once enrolled in the program, stays in the program for a year. Backpack Pals does not know the children they serve, as they are selected based on needs by the guidance counselor at their school.
“Corporate grants are down this year,” said Lindsey. “We have received some donations but not as much as we’ve gotten in the past, but money is tight for everyone.”
Santa will also be at the event, said Lindsey.
The holidays often inspire many to give money and time to causes that better the community, and Lindsey said she has a hard time sitting by when children are starving in Richmond County.
“Knowing we have hungry children out there honestly breaks my heart,” said Lindsey. “It tears my soul in two. Some come from homes where there isn’t enough (food) to go around. Some have absentee parents. When we feed these children … they become better students. This changes these children.”
Backpack Pals serves children from kindergarten through the fifth grade. The children receive their backpacks on Friday before leaving school, and in order to stay in the program, the children must bring the backpack back on Monday. According to Lindsey, the only time backpacks were not returned was when children in the program moved to another school district and took their backpacks with them, thinking they would have them filled.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.