You may have seen some recent articles about Bulldog Bags in the Stow Sentry and Akron Beacon Journal. Bulldog Bags was started by Laura Root and Jan Mathers from the United Methodist Church in Stow when they heard about the need. A student who transferred from the Akron school system to one of the elementary schools here in Stow came to his teacher and asked where he went to get his weekend food bag. Nonprofit programs have provided Akron school children who have access to government breakfast and lunch programs on school days with a few personal groceries to get them through the weekend. The school’s counselor turned to the emergency food pantry at the United Methodist Church in Stow for temporary help. That’s where Laura and Jan came in. They had witnessed the need at the pantry growing in recent years and took the request to heart. They began a campaign to copy the weekend food programs operated by other area districts and out of that campaign Bulldog Bags, Inc. became a reality.
“Bulldog Bags, Inc. is a community, non-profit organization that provides elementary school children in the Stow-Munroe Falls City School District who are on the Federal Free and Reduced Price Meal program, or otherwise qualified, with a nutritional equivalent of the breakfasts and lunches that a child on free and reduced-price meals is missing on the weekends. These are provided on the last Friday of the month. This is a cooperative effort between the community and the schools, funded through donations from the community. A weekend food bag may consist of breakfast and entrée items, plus snacks for the weekend. The items will be nutritious, single serving size, easily opened and prepared, such as an oatmeal packet, mac and cheese, canned fruit and raisins. Personal care kits may be included with items, such as a toothbrush, toothpaste or soap.”
How many kids is Bulldog Bags helping?
One-in-four Stow students qualifies for the free-and-reduced lunch program. In the first three months of operation, Bulldog Bags has distributed over 1,200 bags in the six Stow-Monroe Falls elementary schools (approximately 350 – 400 each month).
How does SPC plan to get involved with Bulldog Bags, Inc.?
SPC plans to get involved in several different ways:
- SPC members can help with packing of the Bulldog Bags. We’re planning on gathering a group of SPC volunteers to help with packing of bags for the May event scheduled for Friday, May 27th at 9:00 AM. Packing only takes about an hour at Stow City Hall and it’s very well organized. Bob and Holly Fletcher have helped with packing the last few months and can give you more details. A sign-up sheet and more information will be posted near the welcome center in early May. We plan to send a team of packers three or four times a year.
- Bob and Holly Fletcher recently took on chairing one of the Bulldog Bags committees. This committee is responsible for pick-up and delivery of donated goods; for example, picking up supplies from the Akron-Canton Food Bank or donated items from local grocers and merchants. SPC members can get involved by volunteering to assist with the donation pick-ups and delivery to Stow City Hall. Look for the sign-up sheet at the welcome center or contact Bob or Holly if you’re interested in helping at Bfletch67@aol.com or 330-688-8571.
- Donations – upon occasion we will coordinate a donation drive for specific Bulldog Bag items. Watch for more information on this in the future – we hope to kick off a summer collection event to jumpstart the Bulldog Bags efforts in the fall when school resumes.
- We can support fundraisers going on throughout the community including the monthly Arby’s night where a percentage of sales goes to Bulldog Bags. Next one is May 11th from 5 to 8 PM at the Arby’s off Norton Rd, Stow.
- Pray! From month-to-month, Bulldog Bags doesn’t always know where donations or money is coming from to support their ongoing efforts. Bulldog Bags is totally dependent on donations to keep it going. Pray for continued support from the community. Also pray for guidance as Bulldog Bags plans to expand the program in the future to include Lakeview (5th & 6th grade students) and possibly add more weeks to the Elementary school program. Support has been overwhelming so far and Bulldog Bags hopes to keep that momentum going. Prayers are always needed!
For more information, check out the organization’s website at http://bulldogbags.org.
Here’s a few links to recent Stow Sentry and Akron Beacon Journal articles:
By Paula Schleis Beacon Journal staff writer Published: November 21, 2015
By Stephanie Fellenstein Reporter Published: December 27, 2015
You can also follow Bulldog Bags, Inc. on Facebook. Just search for” Bulldog Bags, Inc”. You can also contact the Fletchers directly for more information.