One of the first steps was to begin building awareness throughout the community about the enormity of this problem. I helped create the original flyer and other correspondence describing the initiative.
Many people are helping in a variety of ways, but my other activities to support "Back the Pack" include:
• As a recent graduate of the Council of Chambers Youth Leadership program, I knew that the new group would be looking for community service projects. I asked to be invited to the orientation to present the “Back the Pack” program for consideration.
• I made other presentations at my church youth group’s fall kickoff, to the City of Rock Hill’s Youth Council, and to the high schools’ student councils, as well as, to other school clubs.
• I finished the scripting for the three high schools’ use to roll out their food drives.
• I organized school volunteers to make posters and to decorate collection boxes to be distributed among the high schools, middle schools and elementary schools.
• I also helped with mailing out letters to civic groups and non-profit organizations to describe the program and to request donations.
• I participated in the Back the Pack’s official public launch on Oct. 3 and helped with packing bags and stocking shelves.
• I responded to a local news media’s request for an interview.
• I have applied for a grant to benefit Back the Pack.
The impact on my school and my community is yet to be measured, but there are positive signs that it’s catching on. It wasn’t difficult to enlist the help of volunteers. Many groups and individuals have shown an interest and a willingness to help after I tell them about the program. The word is still spreading and momentum is growing, so I’m sure we will soon be able to take care of all of the elementary schools for the entire school year.
The community is beginning to catch the fever. A couple of newspaper articles have been published, and we received enough food items on our kickoff to fill more than 600 zip loc bags. We also received more than $36,000 to date in donations to take care of three-fourths of the school year.
Our school district’s representative on the organizing committee reports that she has received hundreds of e-mail messages from citizens who are offering to volunteer to pack bags or to give money to support the program. The mayor hosted a summit called, “The Number One Question Is…'Is It Good For The Children?'” and he asked us to present the “Back the Pack” program to the attendees. Some of the community leaders in the room had already started their own projects to support "Back the Pack."