School backpack program expands

The Abbotsford project, formerly called Blessings in a Backpack, has been renamed the Starfish Pack Program.

Starfish Pack Program now serves 180 students and their families.

Starfish Pack Program now serves 180 students and their families.

The Blessings in a Backpack program has been renamed for the 2014-15 school year.

The program is now called the Starfish Pack Program and has expanded from the original pilot project of 10 backpacks at one school to the current level of 12 elementary schools serving 184 students and their families.

By the end of October, it is hoped that the program will be in 14 schools with a total of 216 backpacks.

There are hopes to further expand the program, with additional corporate and personal sponsorships needed.

The program, which is supported and co-ordinated by the Abbotsford Rotary Club, began in the 2012/13 school year to help feed kids who might be going hungry on the weekends.

Many of these students were part of their school’s breakfast and/or lunch programs during the week. Every Friday, participating students receive a backpack filled with two breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners to last them for the weekend.

The empty packs are then returned and refilled for the following week by volunteers who shop for the items, fill the backpacks and deliver them to the schools.

The cost of providing the backpacks for one child for the school year is $525, which comes from donations from local organizations, individuals, businesses and churches.

Those wanting to contribute are asked to visit the Abbotsford Food Bank at 33914 Essendene Ave. or call 604-859-5749. Cheques can be made out to the Abbotsford Food Bank with “Starfish Pack Program” on the notation line.

Donations can also be made online at the BlackPress4Good crowdfunding site: