Dowagiac Elks donate to St. Francis Outreach program

DOWAGIAC — A local organization recently donated funds to help fill the stomachs of local children during the weekends.

Dowagiac Elks Lodge #889 recently donated $2,000 to Saint Francis Outreach’s Backpack program. The program helps to provide food assistance to 120 children at Dowagiac elementary schools by providing them each Friday with a bag filled with two breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners, and fresh fruit and snacks for students to eat over the weekend, when they do not have access to school provided meals. Participating students are chosen by school staff, according to program organizers.

“This program has been a great assistance for those families who can’t afford to give their kids nutritious meals throughout the weekend,” said LuAnn Scott, treasurer and co-chair of the backpack program. “The kids look forward to getting that bag. Counselors have told us that the kids come to school on Monday rested and seem to concentrate better having had food over the weekend. … It’s a great program.”

The program, which is in its third year, is run with a $10,000 grant from the Pokagon Fund and through donations like the recent one from the Elks Lodge and other local organizations and individuals, including Sister Lakes Community Church and Pokagon United Methodist Church, among others.

Scott said she is grateful for every donation that the backpack program receives, adding that every little bit helps.

“The $2,000 from the [Elks] Lodge will really come in quite handy to help us be able to not really be strapped in terms of finances,” she said. “We do a lot in the community with different programs, so we really appreciate it. … We love to do things in the community for the underprivileged.”

Also the chaplain and a past exalted ruler of the Dowagiac Elks Lodge, Scott said the Elks Lodge chose to donate to Saint Francis Outreach because many Elks members are involved with the backpack program and help to pack and deliver bags for children every Friday.

“We are trying to give back,” Scott said. “We have grants through the Elks that we need to use, and they decided that it is wonderful to make sure that our kids get fed. It’s been a win-win situation.”

With the support of community organizations like the Elks behind it, Scott said she has been happy to see the backpack program thrive and help many children in the Dowagiac area.

“It’s just amazing to see how everyone has reach out to help us support these kids,” she said. “It’s just a great feeling.”

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