Written by Greg Sapp

Blessings in a Backpack – Effingham is inviting the community to the 2nd annual Backpack Ball on Friday, March 4 at the Effingham Knights of Columbus Building.

A buffet dinner will be served from 6-8pm, followed by a live auction and dueling pianos by Spanky Entertainment of St. Louis. Catering is provided by Country Rhodes with all you can eat fish, shrimp, pulled pork, wings and sides. Local bakers will provide an array of desserts. Shackmann, Inc. will auction a large selection of donated items, services, adventures and experiences. A few of the items available are Disney park hopper passes for four, dinner for 25 people from a championship barbeque team, seven night stay in an ocean-front condo, original artwork, children’s birthday party packages, spa packages and much more.

Tickets are currently on sale on the group’s website, www.effinghambackpack.org under the Events section. Individual tickets are $50 and attendees are seated on an arrival basis the evening of the event. Reserved tables of eight are $500.  In addition to reserved seating, those who purchase tables receive drink tickets and businesses receive social media recognition, table signage and program acknowledgment. The group expects to sell around 500 tickets, so reserved seating is recommended.

Fundraising chair for Blessings in a Backpack, Tiffany Toney, commented, “We are expecting an even bigger crowd than the 2015 Backpack Ball. We were all so excited about the success of last year’s event that we hope to do it again this year. The Ball allowed us to increase our packing numbers tremendously. So many people loved Spanky Entertainment that we invited him back to get everyone grooving with dueling pianos. Country Rhodes Catering was and is always a crowd favorite and our auction will have even more exciting items than last year! Get your tickets now before we sell out! See you at the 2nd Annual Backpack Ball!”

The first Backpack Ball, held in 2015, raised more than $40,000 for the local children’s charity which provides food for children and students over the weekends during the school year.  Now in its third year of operations in Effingham, the group is serving nearly 400 students per week.

Andy Glosser, a Unit 40 teacher and School Liaison for Blessings in a Backpack, said, “While our students receive breakfast and lunch during the week, many suffer food insecurity on the weekends. For some, the last bell on Friday brings a lot of worry. The food bags provided by Blessings are helping to alleviate some of that worry. The program has a big impact.”

Kay Dust, Blessings board member and former principal in Unit 40 agrees, “We have heard from teachers and counselors that the Blessings in a Backpack program has had great benefits to the students. Studies have found that students receiving supplemental nutrition have positive behavioral changes, more focus in the classroom, and are more energetic and engaged in learning.”

For more information about the event or the organization, email effinghambackpack@gmail.com or view the “Blessings in a Backpack – Effingham IL” page on Facebook.