Photo by Bobby Haven/New Brunswick News

Photo by Bobby Haven/New Brunswick News

Jennifer Meyers set a lofty goal on Thursday — pack 2,000 bags of food, in the span of just a few hours.

Meyers, a Blessings in a Backpack site coordinator, told the volunteers assembled before her that they would be breaking the local chapter’s record of 700 bags packed in a single day.

“It’s super exciting because I know you can do it,” Meyers said, in a pep talk just before the bagging began. “This will be our largest packing party to date.”

The group then rose eagerly to the challenge.

Blessings in a Backpack, a nonprofit that sends bags of food home on weekends with students from low-income families, partnered Thursday with the Gathering Place to host a packing event in preparation of the upcoming school year.

Nearly 70 junior interns from the Gathering Place spent the day at St. Simons United Methodist Church, where they loaded boxes of food into cars and filled plastic bas with crackers, fruits, drinks, granola bars and cans of ravioli.

“We’re getting a jumpstart on the semester,” Meyers said. “Since all of our food is shelf-stable, we’re able to pack ahead a little bit. That way, in the semester we can grab and go.”

The volunteer opportunity fit perfectly into the Gathering Place internship’s educational mission, said head intern Hannah Patton. The leadership development program aims to teach students how to better their own community, she said.

“We believe that a leader is also someone who is a servant and who serves others and puts others before themselves,” she said.

The packing party also opened the interns’ eyes to the needs of their fellow students, she said.

“Some of them might know kids who go to these schools or they might even know the kids who are receiving these bags,” Patton said.

Cassie Shaver, a Gathering Place intern, said she’s seen the students in her own school who benefit from this program.

“It’s a huge impact,” she said. “I saw, whenever I was in elementary school, a lot of kids who didn’t have lunches. It’s so cool they have this support for them.”

Blessings in a Backpack feeds almost 1,000 children in the Glynn County school system, Meyers said. That’s about half the students currently signed up for the free and reduced lunch program.