The recent Stonebridge Community backpack drive, in partnership with the Lebanon Special School District and Middle Tennessee Girl Scouts, will make sure local students have food and other essentials.
Over the last couple of years, Stonebridge Community members were collecting toiletries and snack food items to supplement the Lebanon Special School District Family Resource Center Weekend Backpack Program.
To collect needed items, Girl Scouts and volunteers set up tables at both Kroger's and Al's in Lebanon and accepted food and cash donations to help stamp out hunger in Wilson County. The Stonebridge Community Clubhouse was the drop-off location.
It all came together over the weekend and Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead was on hand to tell the Girls Scouts what a service they were doing for the community.
"The Stonebridge Community with the support of the Middle Tennessee Girl Scouts had a very successful food drive," said Jana Pastors, Stonebridge Community clubhouse manager and activities coordinator. "We had an impressive 1,800 items collected along with cash donations to deliver to the Backpack Program. This shows the tremendous support that Stonebridge has for our local charities. Stonebridge Community has pulled together as a family to help impact those in need."
She said children from the Stonebridge Community also attend Lebanon schools, so the collections are going to friends and neighbors through the efforts of the Family Resource Center, directed by Beth Petty.
"The backpack program is very important to our schools and it's important that the City of Lebanon realizes the need to feed our children. Every day I am blessed to work with motivated residents that are ready to get involved in such charitable programs like the Backpack Program," Pastors said. "People like Beth Petty dedicate themselves to making these charitable programs a success, I consider it a privilege to work with Team leaders like her. The feeling that we have when we all come together to create such successful fundraisers is a reward in itself. To see the looks on the Girl Scout's faces was heartwarming, they were so proud of themselves."
For some students, school meals are the only ones they can count on each day. While those meals can get them through the school day, what about on weekends and during summer vacation? Without the Backpack Program, a lot of children might go without.
Petty is overjoyed to get the much-needed help.
"We are thrilled with the number of items that were raised in this drive. Each time we checked on the Girls Scouts, shoppers at Al's and Kroger were coming out with items to donate to this event. Our community never fails to come through to help us keep our students safe and healthy," Petty said.
She said Lebanon students are lucky to have such generous neighbors.
"We take for granted that we live in such a wonderful place. Events like these put our perspective back on track so we know how blessed we are. With the Stonebridge Community, the Girl Scouts and the Wilson County community all working together, a much needed program is going to happen this summer," Petty said. "For the first time, students will be fed all summer. In a partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank of Nashville, local churches and other organizations, a select group of children will receive free hot meals and weekend food through June and July."
Making sure local students have food when they are not in school has been a priority for many in Wilson County.
"This is something both Mayor Craighead and Mayor [Randall] Hutto have wanted to see happen for a long time. Finally, all the pieces have come together and many different organizations are working to make it happen," Petty said. "Once again, our local Girl Scouts are at the forefront of making things happen. Our local Boy Scouts are no different. These groups identify need and then get busy to address it. We can really be proud of what they accomplish."