The local Cat Pack/ Pup Pack program received a massive donation Monday afternoon, securing funding through the start of next school year.
TEAM Auto Center Executive Manager Kent Holub presented program coordinators with a $25,000 check from proceeds from TEAM’s 25th Anniversary celebration in December.
Tracy Steele, Deb Schild, and Terry Bailey were on hand at TEAM to accept the donation, and say that this money will go a long way to ensure backpacks filled with food for the weekend will continue going to students in need.
At this time last year, there were about 200 students were benefiting from the program. Currently that number has spiked upwards to 270.
With more than a 30 percent increase in students needing backpacks- plus the rising cost of food, Steele says they had to ramp up fundraising efforts at the end of the semester.
“We took to social media and other agencies and started asking for donations to help continue the process through the end of the school year,” explained Steele. “This donation will help us give us a boost to the beginning of next year.”
She says the annual cost of the program is approximately $60,000.
“Everything we get donation wise comes from the community, from either individual donors, businesses like TEAM, or food donations. We do write a couple of grants where we do get funding from.”
Each backpack loaded for the weekend includes 15 food items, including a pasta meal, cereal, granola bar, pudding, veggies, fresh fruit, and more. Steele says every item is aimed at being kid-friendly so they can prepare it themselves if need be.
Schild says the food costs have risen as well, and currently each pack costs roughly $5.50, but as much as $8 per pack in the event of a long weekend.
Individuals who want to donate to the program can send checks to Cooperative Ministries Council, PO Box 733 in Scottsbluff. Folks can also reach out via their Facebook page