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February 2, 2013

Constantine Friday Backpack Program receives second grant from Abbott Labs

Constantine K-12 school counselor Steffany Predosa recently reported the Constantine Friday Backpack Program (CFBP) received a second grant from Abbott Labs in Sturgis.  The first grant was issued in June of 2011 and ran out at the end of December 2012.   The second grant was awarded in November of 2012 and is expected to last until May of 2014.


“This money will provide food for up to 50 students a week for approximately one and one half of a school year,” Predosa said. “The current grant will provide food for the remainder of this year, and most of the next.”

Predosa stopped actively fund-raising during the 2011-2012 school year, only accepting donations from regular private and corporate donors, and the Heels for Meals event organized earlier in the year.

“Constantine has been incredibly generous over the years to this program, with help from Pioneer and Monsanto at the beginning of the program, and generous neighbors and local businesses,” she said. “We  have built a program that is able to feed hundreds of students and helps dozens and dozens of families in our community who are truly in need.”

The CFBP started with a surplus this school year, and provided holiday meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas for participating families, as well as a few families that experienced hardship during the holiday season. Each family was provided with a turkey and additional food items.  The program also assisted with Christmas gift bags that contained candy, crayons, socks, mittens, hats, a puzzle book or coloring book and other items. Each student in the program was given a gift bag. Terry Krull organized the project.

“I may not be actively looking for monetary donations, but I will accept them for additional services for families,” Predosa said. “Our holiday projects would not be possible without the additional donations.”

The CFBP has evolved over the past few years from a small outreach program, to a large community-wide service project.  When the program started, the school was able to provide backpacks to 12 students a week. Last year the program served 55 students each week. It is based on referral by teachers, staff and other outside agencies. When a student is identified as needing assistance, the school counselor contacts the family and secures their permission to participate in the program. School volunteers such as parents, and educational and administrative assistants, make sure each student receives a bag of food before they leave for the weekend.

“This program has truly been designed for Constantine students. It is staffed by Constantine volunteers, and it is paid for entirely by surrounding neighbors and local businesses,” Predosa said.

The CFBP works with the Food Bank of South Central Michigan, where food is packed to deliver to Constantine.  A storage site for food at Riverside Elementary was arranged by school superintendent Chuck Frisbie.

For more information on the program contact any Constantine school.  School contact information may be obtained from www.constps.org .

Source:  Story contributed by Angie Birdsall.

Editor’s Note:  This post was revised slightly at 9 a.m. 2-3-13 to correct the dates associated with the two grants.

One Comment

  1. Angie Birdsall

    Hello.. I’ve been involved in a lot of different projects, but the idea of the Friday Backpack Program is one of the best. It is very heartwarming to see a child come into the office to pick up one of these backpacks. I can only imagine what it must be like for a child to be unhappy the weekend is coming because poverty denies him a warm house and a cupboard full of food. Do not take it for granted these children have these things. Mrs. Predosa has said there is “great need” in Constantine. She is very thankful for what she can get to give to these children. I think her personality has a lot to do with the generosity of the community and also employees of Monsanto and Pioneer. Terry Krull is another good hearted person. Christmas must be one of the hardest times of the year if you are a child with nothing. No prospects of toys. No big meal. Krull came forward to work with Predosa to make sure every child had a Christmas stocking. Just thinking about people showing kindness like this brings tears to my eyes.

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