The Polk County Salvation Army announced late in the Spring that their annual Backpack fundraiser would not be held in person this year due to COVID-19. The organization did say that they would still need to raise substantial funds to help support this program in Polk County, The Backpack Program in Polk County helps to feed families in need over the weekends when children are not in school receiving a free or reduced lunch. Each family signs up to participate in the program and each week volunteers from The Salvation Army pack the backpacks and ensure that the bags get to the school on Fridays to go home over the weekend. Each bag includes: a dinner, breakfast, fruit, vegetable and a snack and twice a month, a milk coupon.
Last school year, the organization did not stop delivering backpacks despite school closures due to COVID-19. Instead, The Salvation Army partnered with the school districts to ensure the families who still depended on the backpacks could keep on receiving them when they got their meals for the week from the school. Despite the pandemic, the service did not stop and organizers plan to continue with the program as long as it is needed and as long as there is funding to support it.
In the 2019-2020 school year, the program supported over 300 families each and every week. Each backpack costs approximately $7 to fill. This year, with the annual backpack fundraiser having to be cancelled due to COVID-19, the organization is asking the community for its help. Fundraising Manager, Angela Moulton said, “Our annual fundraiser at the Amery Fire Hall has raised close to $30,000 in the past. Because of the limitations on hosting an in-person event, we are hoping the community will hear the plea for help and still plan to give.” Moulton said, “Many of the event sponsors from previous years are coming alongside and still planning to give to support the program. I am amazed at how generous our community is. At last count, I believe we have had over $5,000 in sponsors come in to help us reach that $30,000 mark.”
During the month of August, The Polk County Salvation Army will be hosting a virtual fundraiser to help raise funds specifically to help the Backpack Program. This program supports kids in the following school districts: Amery, Clear Lake, Clayton, Turtle Lake, Unity, Polk County Head Start, Luck and Frederic. Moulton said, “It will take a community-wide effort to help us continue this important service.” The organization is still accepting sponsorships of the program from businesses. Interested business sponsors should call 715-497-4438 to learn more. Individuals wanting to give to support the program can do so by mailing a donation in to: Polk County Salvation Army MEMO: Backpacks, PO BOX 129, Clear Lake, WI 54005. As an added benefit, there will be a texting (Online Giving) option too. Those wanting to support can text the word “Backpack” to 24365. You will then be routed to an online giving form that will count toward the effort. Follow the Polk County Salvation Army on Facebook to keep aware of the total progress for this fundraiser. They plan to keep it updated as they go throughout the month of August.