HANCOCK - A program to distribute food to students who may not otherwise be able to eat on certain days has expanded, and the organizers were busy Thursday packing up 11 days worth of food to be delivered.
At Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church, 10 people were working to pack plastic trash bags with enough food to last each student for the 11 days of the winter break.
Since the food is supposed to last the entire winter break, there is far more than the group's members usually deliver, so a trooper from the Michigan State Police Calumet post and an officer from the Michigan Technological University police department are helping with the deliveries using their own vehicles.
Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette
From left, Melissa Maki, Sue Church and Laurel Maki fill bags Thursday at Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church in Hancock with food to be distributed to students at the Public Schools of Calumet, Laurium & Keweenaw and Lake Linden-Hubbell Public Schools as part of the 31 Backpacks, Inc. program to give students who may not have enough food available to them at certain times. The food will be transferred to backpacks to make it easier for the students to take the food home.
Since last spring, 31 Backpacks, Inc. has taken bags of food to the Public Schools of Calumet, Laurium & Keweenaw. School representatives then packed the food into backpacks for students to take home.
Currently, 67 percent of C-L-K students qualify for the federal free or reduced-cost lunch program.
Laurel Maki got the idea for the program from a similar one in Phoenix.
The name for the company came about after Maki received an e-mail from C-L-K Superintendent about how many children currently need help in the school district.
"He wrote back, '31 backpacks,'" she said.
The project started at the beginning of October Maki said, and currently, the group is helping 42 students at C-L-K, and five students at the Lake Linden-Hubbell Public Schools. After the holidays, they will also start serving the Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Area Schools.
"We needed to get through Christmas (before expanding)," she said.
Melissa Maki of 31 Backpacks said since October, at least 12 trips have been made to C-L-K to deliver bags of food, which is purchased predominantly at Tadych's Econo Foods in Houghton.
Laurel Maki said the food is purchased with donations of money, and so far the donations have been sufficient.
"We have enough money coming in every week to provide," she said. "We're getting donations from all over the country."
However, Laurel Maki said the organization, which is a 501 c3 nonprofit, still needs donations, which can be taken to any Century 21 Real Estate office in Calumet, Houghton or L'Anse, or dropped at the C-L-K schools. They can also be mailed to 1100 Century Way Suite C Houghton 49931, attention Laurel Hoganson Maki. For more information, call Laurel Maki at 482-0001 ext. 207. Checks should be made payable to 31 Backpacks, Inc.
After the holidays, Laurel Maki said they will go back to making deliveries to the schools every Friday.
Besides monetary donations, Laurel Maki said the organization needs an upright freezer at Grace Christian Fellowship Church in Calumet, where a women's group makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for them. They would also like to get a donation of a building where they can do the sorting and packing of food.