WINDHAM---Thanks to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Windham, many local children were able to enjoy healthy snacks during their summer fun.
Created in the spring of 2016, “Operation Summer Snacks” is an initiative of the parish, located on 919 Roosevelt Trail, that collects food for children in need who receive bags of food from the “Backpackers” program during the school year but, in many cases, do not have the snacks during the summer.
“We totaled more than 2,500 individual snack items, bagging 226 gallon-sized bags that included 31 nut-free bags, 30 nut- and gluten-free bags, and 165 bags with no food restrictions,” said Jill Russell-Morey, a parish catechetical leader. “Each bag contained a mix of 10 snack items, and we tried to include a fruit and juice pouch in each while donations lasted.”
Organizers invite parishioners and community members to drop off snack items in the entrance of the church. From there, the bags are assembled by parish youth and volunteers before being sent to the Windham Food Pantry.
“Three years ago, I contacted the pantry and asked if there was a particular food or item that we could focus on to collect at the parish throughout the summer,” Jill said. “They needed individualized snack items to provide to some local families during the summer months. The donations helped supplement these children’s meals. The faith formation commission at the parish decided that this was a great project to adopt, and we got the word out.”
In addition to individuals and families, generous donations were received this year from the women’s Bible study group at the parish and Windham Cub Scout Pack #805. Parishioners enjoy contributing their donations and time, and the project makes the issue of hunger in the community clearer to both the children and adults at the parish.
“It really puts things into perspective when we think about the number of snacks we eat throughout the week compared to what fits into a gallon-sized bag and will be rationed over a week’s period for these children,” said Jill. “Everyone wants to ensure the most variety possible for the children.”