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PLYMOUTH - Good deeds and blessings do come in small packages.
Amanda Wolford, a graduate of Plymouth High School, is hoping to make a difference this fall to kids with a small kindness through the Blessings in a Backpack program at Texas Women's University in Denton, Texas. The program seeks to provide food to children during the weekend who may have little to none at home for a variety of reasons.
Wolford is enrolled as a freshman at the school and plans to study dietetics.
"When I get out of college, I want to have my focus on kids, and it just kind of fascinates me how food can impact so much. It can do all these things for diseases and sicknesses. It's just amazing how food can do that, especially for little kids," she expressed with excitement.
During her senior year last year, Wolford used her extra study time to aid a third grade class at Menominee Elementary. While there, the students took part in the Blessings in a Backpack program.
The program serves over 66,000 children in 583 schools across 45 states, according to the organization's website.
"I saw the kids and how they reacted when they got the backpacks full of food and just how it helped their attitudes in the classroom, how it helped their scores, because I scored all their tests," said Wolford. "I saw how that impacted their attitudes and I thought that that would be a great way to bring that down to Texas."
Wolford got in touch with local elementary schools in Texas and settled on W.S. Ryan Elementary School.
"50 percent of their kids are on free reduced lunch, so that's why I picked them instead of the other two elementary schools in Denton. They have 600 kids, so that's 300 on free reduced lunch," she said.
Wolford will work to raise $4,000 between now and October to have the funds to start up the program for her first semester. Blessings in a Backpack will provide her with 100 packs initially to start the program. So far, $80 have been donated to Wolford's Go Fund Me website.
The money is used to purchase nonperishable goods from participating stores such as Walmart and Meijer, which will then be stuffed into the bags and delivered to the school on Friday.
At Texas Women's University, Wolford plans to start a club to help get the backs stuffed and delivered. She has faith that she will get the help she needs.
"[Texas Women's University] is really good about supporting clubs that want to be started."
To Wolford, the program is especially important because it doesn't take much, only $80 to sponsor a child.
The soon-to-be freshman has a strong love of kids, and feels the work is very important.
"I think that the whole idea of being a kid is about being carefree. So if you're a kid and you have to think about eating or whether or not you're going to eat, I think that signals to the parent 'I'm not a good parent'," she explained. She hopes to take the burden off of parents to an extent.
"What really helps me get the point across is just to think about how much stress those moms and dads have that aren't finding jobs, aren't finding any resources," she explained. "It's just another burden to see their kid go hungry. We live in America. If we have kids going hungry, I think that should be something that we focus on."
Wolford hopes to fill the kids with something more.
"I hope to get a personal relationship with these kids. It's not just to feed them and leave. I was hoping if the kids were signed up, we could have bonding experiences, like one week I'll have them stuff their own backpacks, os it's more of a personal thing," Wolford said.
To donate to her Go Fund Me site, visit http://www.gofundme.com/bwby4s
This article appeared in the July 30 edition of the Pilot News.