Unlikely Partnership Yields Inspiring Results
With a desire to honor her deceased mother’s strong sense of volunteerism, Pat Moller decided to get involved with Blessings in a Backpack. With donations from family and friends, a program at Stanton Elementary School SE in Washington, D.C. – where approximately 10 percent of the student body is homeless – began in the fall of 2013, feeding 47 students.
This program benefits from the unwavering support of Transitions Healthcare Capital City nursing home where the residents and staff stuff backpacks full of food every week under the direction of Administrator Gail Jernigan.
However, what started out as a partnership to feed hungry kids has since turned into so much more.
“Here’s a school and neighboring nursing home that never had a relationship. Over the past two years, it’s been amazing to see that change,” said Pat. “They really support each other – everything from fundraiser chili cook-offs and bake sales, donations of clothing and Thanksgiving baskets, students singing Christmas carols to residents and coming together to decorate a friendship tree.”
Last year, the owner of Transitions Healthcare Capital City even donated custom made basketball uniforms to both the boys and girls basketball teams – it’s the first time these students haven’t played in their school uniforms. Transitions Healthcare Capital City has come through time and time again for the students at Stanton Elementary.
“I ask – what do the kids need now? And whatever the kids need, I put the call out to friends, family and associates … everyone has been so generous,” said Gail, who accepted the Mayor’s Community Service Award in the category of Community Service on behalf of Transitions Healthcare Capital City last year for their work with Blessings in a Backpack.
The Blessings in a Backpack program now feeds 160 students over the weekend during the school year, but the generosity truly extends beyond food. The partnering program also provides clothing, winter coats and even jobs at Transitions Healthcare for some unemployed parents at Stanton Elementary.
“You take the heart and hands of Blessings in a Backpack and you kind of expand it,” said Gail. “We’ve wrapped our arms around this school and have basically said to them, any time you need anything, just call.”
To learn how you can start a program at a school near you, click here.