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Weekend Backpacks

In 2015, as part of a Baby Boomer initiative, we surveyed Temple Oheb Shalom (TOS) members to see what they were looking for as part of their Temple experience. Overwhelmingly, our members said they wanted an ongoing, multi-generational Tikkun Olam project, one which would create an opportunity for families to participate together. It was heartwarming to see grandparents, children, and grandchildren working together. They wanted to create a caring community.

Rather than re-create the wheel, we adopted Weekend Backpacks for Homeless Kids, a local 501(c)3, founded in 2015 by Sandie Nagel. Every week of the school year, bags of food are packed and delivered to vulnerable, food-insecure Baltimore City youth in the Baltimore City School System. The kids get weekday breakfast and lunch in school but nothing for the weekend.  WBFHK provides that much needed food.

Beginning in September 2016, TOS started raising the funds necessary to pay for the bags we would pack and donate to Weekend Backpacks for distribution to the schools they served. We began by packing 125 bags once a month and quickly grew to the current 600 bags monthly. Our commitment to the “parent organization” was, and still is, that we pay for the food for the bags we pack.

Since the program began at TOS and now Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom, we have packed and donated over 21,000 bags of food, which translates to almost 400,000 meals.  Each bag contains enough food to feed 3-4 people at least six meals over the weekend. This has been possible because of the generosity of congregants and the willingness of hundreds of volunteers to pack the bags. Even now, there are many HSOSC members who give their financial support and many who volunteer as packers and drivers each week for WBFHK.

WBFHK packs and delivers food every week of the school year.  During the pandemic the need has been even greater with so many people out of work. For the first time, we packed and delivered every week throughout the summer. WBFHK has packed and delivered over 600,000 meals in the last nine months alone. We hope to provide over 1,000,000 meals in 2021!

Sat, May 15 2021 4 Sivan 5781