Finding ways to give back during an unusual holiday season

One local nonprofit helps feed hungry students, teachers

Elliott Wenzler
ewenzler@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 12/7/20

Local businesses and residents are continuing to feel the economic strain caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why Douglas County nonprofits are stepping up to help residents in need …

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Finding ways to give back during an unusual holiday season

One local nonprofit helps feed hungry students, teachers

Posted

Local businesses and residents are continuing to feel the economic strain caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s why Douglas County nonprofits are stepping up to help residents in need make ends meet, put food on the table and find firm footing in a constantly changing landscape.

One of those nonprofits, The Backpack Society, based in Highlands Ranch, is focusing on providing food to hungry students and families through partnerships with 11 local schools.

June Everett, founder of the organization, originally planned to grow her new nonprofit, which began serving ThunderRidge High School in January, one school at a time. When the pandemic hit, that plan was upended.

“We just had to jump right in because the need was so great,” she said. 

The 501(c)(3) organization provides weekend meals for any student in need and for students on free and reduced lunches, as well as for their families. The group also provides meals for staff and teachers in need of support. Right now, it gives out 600 meals to 60 students and at least 10 families every weekend, Everett said.

While all the schools it serves are in Highlands Ranch, the organization plans to expand to schools in other parts of the county, like Castle Rock and Sedalia. 

“The problem is that some of the needs are really high,” she said. “We want to be able to make sure we can support the need that’s there.”

Many community members reaching out for help have lost jobs or paychecks during the pandemic, Everett said.

“It’s hard for people to step up and ask for help,” she said. “On the surface, no one would know there is this issue in our community. But it is clearly an issue.”

Students and families of the schools served can sign up for the service through the school. Those schools are: ThunderRidge High, Rock Canyon High, Highlands Ranch High, SkyView Academy, Ranch View Middle, Rocky Heights Middle, Cresthill Middle, Eldorado Elementary, Eagle Ridge Elementary, Fox Creek Elementary and Northridge Elementary.

“Families will tell us ‘you have no idea how much this box of food is making a difference … I don’t have to worry about food, at least for a little while,’” Everett said. 

The organization is in need of monetary donations to buy food from the Food Bank of the Rockies. Those looking to support the organization can also buy gift cards from grocery stores and contact the organization to deliver them or place food items in a donation bin at Mountain View Christian Church, 40 E. Highlands Ranch Parkway, near the Town Center.

“Anything donated stays right here in the community,” she said. 

Volunteer opportunities are currently limited due to the pandemic but could become available in the future.

More information is available by visiting backpacksociety.org or on Facebook at @BackpackSocetyCO.

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