‘A Gift of Hope’

Bimbo Bakeries donates back to backpack program at Lycoming Valley Intermediate School

PHOTO PROVIDED Bimbo Bakeries donated to Lycoming Valley Intermediate School’s BackPack Program recently. Nearly 100 students enrolled in the BackPack Program there received an Amazon Kindle and a gift card to Weis, a $5,000 contribution. The company also provided volunteers to help fill nearly the same amount of backpacks for students to take home over break. Pictured are members of the Bimbo Bakeries volunteer team.

Just in time for the holidays, Bimbo Bakeries provided a special surprise today to the nearly 100 Lycoming Valley Intermediate School (LVIS) students enrolled in its BackPack Program recently.

Nine company volunteers not only helped pack the 94 backpacks for this week’s distribution but it also provided a brand-new Amazon Kindle and a Weis Markets gift card to each student to help with their holiday dinner.

“What we are granted is $5,000 every year, so every year we look for a new project and we were really thrilled to connect with Lyco Valley and a local church to help these kids out,” said Tina Rook, plant manager

The company’s contribution is a part of its Good Neighbor program, in which associates are to find a project that helps improve the community, according to Rook. One of the key requirements of the project, though, is that it entails an opportunity for volunteer participation for employees.

LVIS’s program fit the bill.

The school’s BackPack Program began last year, headed up by the school’s PTO in partnership with the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.

“Leading up to the beginning of last school year, we saw a need that needed to be met, and children who are at risk for hunger,” said Rose-Marie Gross, a former PTO member who led and oversaw the start of the program last year. “We have a large population of kids in this school who are eligible for free-and-reduced lunches, and sometimes those are the best meals they get. So, when weekends come, they often are struggling to find a good source for food, so we began the BackPack Program here at Lycoming Valley.”

Each backpack is filled weekly with food that students can prepare themselves or are already prepared to help increase the accessibility to food and nutrition on weekends and during extended breaks.

“It’s been a great success,” Gross said. “We packed over 2,500 backpacks last school year. We have about 94 kids who are eligible to get a backpack every week and, on average, we pack between 70 and 80 backpacks (every week).”

“What Bimbo Bakeries has done is they’ve provided a gift of hope, in a sense of just giving kids something they can read, something that’s theirs,” said Principal Tim Fausnaught. “We’re very thankful for what they’ve done for us. At school here, we talk about treating others how you’d like to be treated and Bimbo Bakeries has done that. They’ve treated kids, and others who are less fortunate, the way they want to be treated in a loving and kind way.”