During East Texas Giving Day in April, a record 2.8 million dollars was raised for nonprofit organizations in East Texas. Thanks to our generous donors and matching funds, the East Texas Food Bank was able to raise a remarkable $63,366 dollars to help with our mission of fighting hunger and feeding hope. Those funds will help provide over 50,000 meals to the families we help.
One gift, however, came as an unexpected surprise.
Bell Elementary Principal Tamara Johnson gave us a call to say the school wanted to donate to the East Texas Food Bank for East Texas Giving Day. Bell Elementary is in Tyler Independent School District.
“Every year before COVID, our campus would host a Jingle Bell Run to raise money to benefit a student who may have been in a health crisis,” Johnson said. “Because of COVID this year, we were not able to go through the process like we normally would for one of our students.”
It was decided the funds would go to the food bank instead.
“The food bank feeds over 100 students here each Friday through the BackPack Program,” Johnson said. “We thought this would still benefit our students and our community with the donation.”
The BackPack Program was created to fill the meal gap on the weekends and extended breaks for students that rely on free and reduced meal programs through school. Staff and faculty members at school campuses, such as Bell, choose which children join the program, based on an assessment of need. On Fridays, participating children each receive a backpack filled with nutritious, kid-friendly items such as fruit, juice, cereal bars and shelf-stable milk to help last them until Monday morning, when school meal programs resume.
The Bell donation to the food bank totaled $10,375.86.
“We were absolutely thrilled to give to the food bank,” Johnson said. “We see your efforts in the community and we wanted to have a greater impact.”
“This gift from Bell Elementary will ensure that the children, families and seniors we serve have access to the nutritious food they need to thrive,” said East Texas Food Bank CEO Dennis Cullinane. “We are so grateful to the staff, students and parents for thinking of us during this day of community giving.”