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Backpacks give students weekend food

Child eating
Child eating
Pam Banerjee (Download MP3)
Marla Berg (Download MP3)

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) – You can get some last minute gifts wrapped today and help feed hungry children at the same time.

Volunteers will wrap your gift for a donation at the Barnes and Noble store in Rib Mountain between 9 a.m. and noon. Any money they collect will go toward the Blessings in a Backpack program, which gives needy students a backpack each Friday during the school year full of a weekend's supply of nutritious food.

“Some of the children were not having anything to eat from Friday to Monday,” said local program organizer Pam Banerjee. Banerjee and her family moved to Stettin from Georgia a year ago and decided to start the program here once they saw a need existed.

Money raised today will initially help feed 20 students at Thomas Jefferson elementary school in Wausau. The school has the highest poverty rate in the school district with 78 percent of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch, said principal Marla Berg..

“The school is excited about it,” Banerjee said. “They said this is the answer to their prayers.”

Berg said students who are well fed tend to do better in school.

“Anything we can help with the basic needs being met is going to translate to better performance at school,” she said.

For more information about the program, you can contact Banerjee at pmbanerjee1@gmail.com.

On the Web: Blessings in a Backpack