Backpack Brigade In Action

Hawthorne Elementary

When you visit Hawthorne Elementary School, the term "Rise Up" takes on new meaning. The richness and diversity of the surrounding community is reflected in the faces of the students who fill our classrooms. Some of our families are new immigrants to the United States. Our transitional bilingual students come from Vietnam, China, Laos, Mexico, Guatemala, Somalia, Ukraine and struggle to understand this new and complex culture.

Many Hawthorne families need basic support, some of our families struggle with having enough food to feed their children over the weekends. We provide approximately 45 students with Friday food bags. At the end of the day students know to come to the storage area where the food bags are kept. A volunteer or myself is always waiting to receive them with their backpacks. Friday food bags are filled with different kinds of canned foods such as soups, ravioli, spaghetti o’s, chili, stews, also included might be a bag of rice, beans, spaghetti noodles, top ramen, cup of noodles and kid friendly snacks these are just some of the examples of the item’s students get to take home. Of course, the fruit snacks, granola bars and rice Krispy treats are usually eaten before the bag makes it home. Students that receive theses bags looks forward to Fridays. If I can’t find them they make sure before they leave for the day, they find me.

Some of the family’s request an extra amount of the bag of beans and bag of rice and some request more of the chili. When parents opt out of getting certain things from the bags it allows me to stock someone else up with extra of what they want.

All of our McKinney Vento (homeless) students get a bag of food. In addition, we might serve our low-income families as well this is on a case by case bases. Anyone that needs a bag or request a bag we give it to them. The family that request a bag might be a family that doesn’t qualify for free and reduced lunch but as we all know due to unexpected circumstances like a loss of job or a crisis in the family could cause them to fall on hard times. Some children will ask for an additional bag for other family members in the house. Usually we can accommodate their request because if we run out of bags we normally have a backup area of food to give.

Currently, we have a population of over 40 homeless students. Imagine not knowing where you and your kids will sleep or trying to figure out how and what you are going to feed them in the evenings and not having clean clothes to send them to school in the next day. Many of our families deal with these types of situations every day. Some of our families have dealt with poverty for many reasons such as low wages, job loss, illness, age, domestic violence or divorce. While all of us are susceptible to economic hardship, children are at the most risk. At Hawthorne we try to provide students with a sense of belonging and pride. We tend to their hygiene needs as well as their physical wellbeing.

Just imagine the happiness and appreciation not to mention the smiles on the kids face once they have been given a bag. This is an example of the out pour of love and support that Nichelle Hilton Backpack Brigade and other community partners like you give. You make a difference in the lives of children.

Thank you for your continuous support it makes us be able to help many of our children and families not only meet essential daily needs, but also work toward a brighter future.

Our Hawthorne community wants you to know we think you Rock, thank you for Rising Up when there is a need!

Ms. Williams
Family Support Worker
Hawtorne Elementary

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