An anonymous Wichita couple donated 30 care packages to Enterprise Elementary School this week to make sure some of its students have enough to eat over the holiday break.
The care packages, which include food and toiletry items, are meant to provide the 30 students with enough supplies to last through the two-week winter break.
The couple got the idea after reading an Eagle article about the Food 4 Kids backpack program, which sends home backpacks of food over the weekend with students. The article mentioned 30 chronically hungry students at Enterprise.
“I was blown away,” said Cathy Dugan, social worker at Enterprise Elementary. The donating couple also included some chocolate and other candies for the students.
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The school, at 3605 S. Gold, has approximately 500 students. Thirty of them are considered homeless or chronically hungry, meaning they do not know where they will get their next meal on a daily basis.
While the school can provide the students with breakfast and lunch during the school week, they are left hungry during the weekends. That’s where the Food 4 Kids program, run by the Kansas Food Bank, steps in.
About 7,000 backpacks with food are delivered to students across the state every Friday to last them through the weekend.
Larry Gunkel, programs manager at the Kansas Food Bank, asked the 386 elementary and middle schools to send three additional backpacks home with students in the program before the holiday break.
“We understand that during this Christmas break there will be two to three Fridays that” students will not be at school to receive backpacks, Gunkel said. But even with the extra backpacks, it “will not take care of them.”
After The Eagle article was published, Dugan said she began receiving e-mails and calls from people wanting to help the 30 students at Enterprise during their Christmas break. The donating couple provided Dugan with a list of things they hoped to contribute.
“Everybody that I forwarded the list to said, ‘Wow, what a blessing,’ ” she said.
The family teamed up with three other couples to put together the care packages. After delivering the care packages on Wednesday, they are hoping that other families in the Wichita area will be just a little more aware of the problem of hunger in Wichita schools.
“We generally adopt a family from another school, but when we saw this article, we thought this would be a better way to channel our resources this year,” said one of the people who donated. He asked to remain anonymous. “Anybody that reads this article and is not overwhelmed, I just don’t understand.”
Gunkel said that families have donated like this before in the past, but never to the same degree of generosity as this group.
“I think it’s marvelous that they stepped up,” he said.