Backpack Blessings

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Supt McqueenBy Mark McQueen, Bay District Schools Superintendent

As we embark on a new year, I am eager to draw your attention to a remarkable organization that significantly impacts our community—Backpack Blessings.

This organization, true to its name, is a blessing in our community. Their dedication to ensuring our students in Panama City Beach are fed and encouraged is truly commendable. At Bay District Schools, we deeply appreciate their unwavering support.

Backpack Blessings, a 501c3 tax-exempt non-profit organization, operates seamlessly through our schools in Panama City Beach. Their mission is clear: providing nutritious weekend meals to students facing desperate circumstances. To identify those in need, they rely on the expertise of our incredible teachers and counselors.

Untitled (logo) (banner (landscape)) 1Unfortunately, some of our district’s families are grappling with the harsh reality of student hunger. While school lunches sustain them during the week, the challenge persists over the weekends and extended holiday breaks. Backpack Blessings, recognizing this gap, provides crucial weekend support ensuring our beach students have access to nourishment during these holidays and school breaks. A plethora of other organizations, churches and individuals support our students in the rest of Bay County, but Backpack Blessings has generously taken on the responsibility of supporting all of our schools on the beach.

Since its founding in 2011 by a group of concerned parents/guardians and volunteers, Backpack Blessings has been a shining example of individual citizens stepping up for our children. During the past 12 years, they’ve provided more than 1,899 children in Panama City Beach with more than 72,247 meals, thanks to the collaborative efforts of their dedicated team, volunteers, community members, local businesses, organizations, and churches.

Despite their impactful work, the challenges persist, and this year, they’ve identified the highest number of students in need across all their years of service. As we usher in the new year, let us commit to supporting organizations like Backpack Blessings — financially or through volunteering. With its spirit of resolutions, January provides a perfect opportunity to make a difference.

To contribute, please consider monetary or food donations or even just volunteer your time to help pack some food bags. $7 feeds a child for one week but $250 covers an entire school year (every little bit helps): https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=NEA3DLR72WK8W. You can also become a community partner: https://www.backpackblessingspcb.com/sponsorships/. Follow them on their Facebook page at Backpack Blessings PCB or email them at backpackblessings@gmail.com for more information.

Acknowledging the prevalence of students in our district who face food instability is disheartening. Yet efforts like these fill me with gratitude for Backpack Blessings and their dedicated efforts to address this critical issue. While their operations focus on Panama City Beach, the positive impact reverberates throughout our entire district.

Healthy food and steadfast support are essential for our students’ academic success and well-being. Backpack Blessings endeavors to provide both to those in need across Panama City Beach. Together, let us forge ahead into the new year, making a meaningful difference to ensure that no student within our district goes to bed hungry.

Wishing you all a prosperous and compassionate New Year.