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Chestatee community supports Backpack Buddies
Backpack Buddies pic
Volunteers with the Chestatee subdivision and Rotary Club of Dawson County recently collected hundreds of food items for Backpack Buddies, a local initiative that provides snacks and easy-to-serve food to children of low-income families in Dawson County. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson County News

Volunteers recently collected more than 2,500 items for a local program designed to make sure children do not go hungry when they leave school for the weekend each Friday.

"Most of us never know what that really feels like to be really hungry. If we are hungry, we find a way to meet that hunger," said Hugh Holley, who helped organize the effort with his neighbors in the Chestatee subdivision community.

With a letter they distributed and donation boxes placed throughout the neighborhood, the group collected a combined 2,500 jars of peanut butter and Pop Tarts in August.

Additionally, Holley also presented the need to the local Rotary Club, which donated another nearly 400 items.

"In Rotary, overall I think we collected maybe 200 items and we got a match on those 200 items, either by cash or product from a couple of Rotarians that decided they would match up what we could get," he said.

The food was then distributed to area students through Backpack Buddies, a local initiative that provides snacks and easy-to-serve food to children of low-income families in Dawson County.

Dawson County Sheriff's Capt. Tony Wooten started the program in 2014 after a resource officer spotted an elementary school student eating from a trash can at the school.

Backpack Buddies now serves more than 60 children in the Dawson County School System.

Hearing that children were searching for food to take home with them so they wouldn't be hungry during the weekend tugged on Holley's heartstrings, he said.

"The issue that really affected me was thinking about children going into the garbage can to look for food for the weekend," Holley said.

Funded entirely by donations, Wooten said he is thankful for the community's support.

"We're do grateful to have so much support from so many people...individuals, civic groups, churches, Mountain lake Church just gave us a huge donation, and the Chestatee community. Hugh, with the help of people like Randy Wells, they went above and beyond," he said.

Holley said he wanted to thank everyone that contributed to the cause.

"We had collected winter clothes for the homeless for a couple of years in the subdivision, but I had no idea what kind of response to expect," he said. "The neighborhood really came through very strong and we were very fortunate to be able to be as successful as we were.

"We felt really good about what we were able to do."