Volunteers in the Newville community have been working hard to continue providing food for Big Spring School District students during state-mandated school closures.
The PAW Packs Program that provides food for students over the weekend has seen an exponential growth in numbers since the coronavirus pandemic has put families in dire straits with layoffs and business closures. The program typically serves between 100 and 125 children. However, with the increased need, volunteers are now preparing meals for more than 400 children.
Because of the increase, funds and available resources are becoming scarce. Director Kim Bailey explained volunteers typically use stores like Sam’s Club and Walmart to get more supplies for less. However, they can no longer purchase food from those stores with the limits being placed on customers due to the pandemic.
Bailey and Food Organizer Pat Wilhide said Saylor’s Market in Newville has graciously donated 10 cases of soup to the program, and has also permitted them to set up a donation box for cereal, which is a great need, inside of the store.
“PAW Packs has continued its operation of supplying supplemental weekend meals to children since the close of schools in March by working with the school district. Once district personnel know the number of bags they will be distributing each week, they relay that number to us,” Wilhide explained. “While the district is supplying children with breakfast and lunch items for what would normally be school days, PAW Packs distributes food items to cover breakfast and lunch on the weekends. We take our bags to the high school and hand them out as part of the drive-through program set up by the district. Like many other places, we are finding that food is getting more difficult to get. Our regular sources are limiting the amount of food that we can purchase, and in some cases will not allow us to order anything. We have turned to the Central PA Food Bank for help and they have graciously allowed us to order from them. Still, with the high demand for food, their supplies are limited, as well. We are thankful for our local Saylor’s Market for their recent donation of 10 cases of soup. They too are helping us get the items that they can. They also are allowing us to collect donations of boxes of cereal at their store.”
Bailey said there is a concern regarding the depletion of food supplies.
“We will continue to reach out to the community, and pray that the food keeps coming. It is a valid concern, but we certainly hope we don’t get to that point,” she said.
Bailey and Wilhide noted monetary donations are much appreciated right now with the increased need.
Checks should be made payable to PAW Packs Program and sent to: PAW Packs Program, c/o Newville First COG, 475 Shippensburg Road, Newville, Pa. 17241.
“We are also looking into a means that community members can donate electronically. If we decide to do so, details will be posted on our PAW Packs Program Facebook page,” Wilhide said.
“We are blessed that we are able to help the families with children in Newville, and we are thankful for the community and how they have supported and rallied around the program,” Bailey said.
“In working with this program, I have found that the community has a giving heart for our local children. When the need arises, whether it’s food, Christmas gifts, Easter treats, or some other need, there are always people willing to help financially or by volunteering. Helping to keep food on the table during this difficult time is a community effort, and those of us involved with the PAW Packs Program are glad to help. We are blessed to live in such a caring community,” Wilhide noted.
For more information on the PAW Packs Program, visit: www.pawpacks.org, or the Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Community/PAW-Packs-Program-1340381442705881/.