Hanceville Knapsacks for Kids going strong in 4th year

Knapsacks for Kids volunteers held their first packing day Aug. 22 at the Hanceville Civic Center. (Photo courtesy Hanceville Knapsacks for Kids)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – For some people, hunger is an open-ended question: not so much “What’s for dinner?” as it is “when” or “if.” A recent report by Alabama Possible showed that one in five Cullman County children suffer from food insecurity. The county’s multiple Knapsacks for Kids programs are responding to the problem by sending food home on weekends with children who qualify for free and reduced meals at school, or who have been identified by school counselors as being in need. The Tribune will be highlighting the work of several of the local groups, starting in Hanceville, whose local Knapsacks program serves Hanceville Elementary School and the Garden City Head Start program.

Hanceville program director and former Cullman County Board of Education Superintendent Nancy Horton told The Tribune that the local group serves 18 Head Start students and 35 students at Hanceville Elementary, though the numbers can fluctuate with changing needs and emergencies through the school year. Volunteers send bags full of food each Friday in inconspicuous backpacks provided by Hanceville First Methodist Church to avoid embarrassing any kids, and send double portions on the Fridays before Thanksgiving, Christmas and spring break to provide a little something extra through the holidays.

Fourteen groups take turns packing the bags on Thursdays, including:

  • Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church, Colony
  • Hanceville First Methodist Church
  • 91 Homemakers’ Club
  • Hopewell Baptist Church
  • Trinity Lutheran Church
  • Center Hill Baptist Church
  • First Baptist Church Hanceville
  • Faith Restoration
  • First Baptist Church Hanceville Youth
  • Hanceville Culture Club
  • Northside Church of Christ
  • Garden City Church of God
  • Mountain Brook Baptist Church
  • Hanceville Civitan Club

Additionally, Stout’s Mountain Baptist Church donates food items and Bethlehem East Baptist Church makes financial contributions.

Said Horton, “Not only do these churches volunteer to come pack a couple of times a year–at least two times a year, some of them three times–most of them contribute food items and/or financial support. We also have financial support from some private contributors; actually, we have one private contributor who makes a donation every month, and we also have some businesses in Hanceville that contribute. So, the food that is donated by the churches provides part of it. Then we take the financial donations and purchase whatever we need.”

The group provides each elementary child two breakfast items, two lunch items, two supper items, six snacks, water, shelf-storable milk, two Capri Sun juices, a juice box and a Yoo-hoo drink. Younger children in the Head Start program receive slightly smaller portions. 

Hanceville’s Knapsacks program committee includes Horton, Sandy Waters, Amy Gable, Sabrina Ryan, Lisa Robinson, Carla McKee and Retha Tinney.

According to Horton, generous support leading up to the start of the season has put Hanceville’s program on a solid footing for the beginning of the school year, but donations are always welcome. Horton also recommended another area charity that The Tribune will feature in an upcoming story.

She concluded, “The Knapsacks for Kids program has made a positive difference in the lives of the students in the Hanceville area and the Garden City area. The impact is also shared with the community in the donation and the volunteerism that has made a difference for the children. We are so thankful for all our contributors and our volunteers who work to make this effort possible.”

For more about Hanceville Knapsacks for Kids or to make a donation, visit www.facebook.com/HancevilleKnapsacks/

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W.C. Mann