Working out to end hunger

MARQUETTE — Those who are looking to exercise while supporting a local effort to combat hunger will have an opportunity to do so on Aug. 29, as Anytime Fitness of Marquette will be raising funds for JJPacks, a local organization that aims to ensure no child goes hungry over the weekend.

JJPacks works to provide school children who are in need with nutritious food over the weekend to make sure “those basic needs are met, so they’re ready to learn, they’re not hungry,” Nicole Holder of JJ Packs said.

This is one of the main goals of the program, Holder said — providing healthy food to children who may not be able to access it otherwise over the weekend.

“We have programs for free and reduced breakfast and lunch during the school week, but there’s nothing that covers the weekend, so by sending these JJ Packs home with students over the weekend, they come back to school ready to learn,” Holder said in a previous interview with The Mining Journal.

JJ Packs was serving an estimated 250 students in seven schools throughout the Marquette Area Public Schools District at the end of the last school year — they hope to serve even more in the coming school year, Holder said, noting they aim to eventually reach every child who receives free breakfast and lunch in schools.

JJ Packs volunteers pack food at one of their weekly packing sessions, which are typically held each Friday. Funds will be raised for JJPacks, which is 100-percent volunteer run, on Aug. 29 at Anytime Fitness of Marquette. (Courtesy photo)

“Approximately 30 percent of children in Marquette schools fall under the poverty line … We want to reach as many students as we can, anyone who wants one can request one and we’ll get you on the list and start sending packs home,” Holder said in a previous interview with The Mining Journal.

JJ Packs is already looking toward the future, she said.

“We’ve got some goals, more students, and more food,” Holder said, noting that anyone who asks for a JJ Pack will receive it, with no complex paperwork or proof of income needed.

The organization is “100 percent” volunteer ran, Holder said, adding “all the money goes directly back into the program into the food and supplies that go home.”

“Without our Marquette community, we wouldn’t be able to do this, we’re highly dependent upon fundraisers like this,” Holder said.

The fundraiser comes at an ideal time with school starting, she said.

“This is a great time for a fundraiser because we’re just starting up, school starts the first week in September and we want to start as soon as possible,” she said.

Through the Aug. 29 fundraiser, Anytime Fitness of Marquette hopes to raise enough funds to support JJ Packs in supplying five to ten children with food over the weekend for an entire school year — at a cost of $115 per child, per year, costs add up quickly, said Anna Humes, personal trainer at Anytime Fitness Marquette.

“It’s a pretty hefty goal but we’re shooting high,” Humes said.

The fundraiser will last all day on Aug. 29, she said.

“I’ll be there from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., we set up a table, we have people coming from JJ Packs,” Humes said, noting the best time for the public to stop in and donate is from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Humes said financial donations are accepted, along with donations of non-perishable food.

There will also be a $5 team training from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., which is open to member and non-members alike, with the funds raised contributed to JJ Packs.

“We have team training every single week, it’s just a bunch of circuit work, we put a bunch of exercises together and (it’s an) hour-long workout with a warm-up and a cool-down,” Humes said. “And this one is just special that you get to raise money at the same time, it’s the only one we specifically charge $5 for.”

Those who are interested in donating to JJ Packs can even do so before the fundraiser, Humes said, noting that people can come into Anytime Fitness of Marquette and donate $1 to decorate a hand anytime before or during the Aug. 29 fundraiser.

“(If you) donate a dollar, you can decorate a hand that our other trainer designed,” Humes said. “And you can color it and write your name on it and we’ll stick in on the wall.”

Humes emphasized that Anytime Fitness of Marquette seeks to be “more than just a gym” and get involved with the community.

“We volunteer at runs, we volunteer at other stuff, we make sure that we have these fundraisers, we make stuff open to the public, not just open to our members,” she said, noting that the Aug. 29 fundraiser for JJPacks is part of a series of fundraisers for local organizations that they hold at the end of each month.

Holder said JJ Packs is grateful for the support of Anytime Fitness of Marquette.

“Anytime Fitness has been great, they’re awesome for doing this,” she said.

Holder wants the community to know that there are many ways to support JJ Packs.

“If anybody wants to be involved, they can contact us on our Facebook page. They can bring a group (to pack food), they can fundraise, they can just visit on a Friday,” Holder said in a previous interview with The Mining Journal.

Individual people or groups can volunteer to help with packing, which typically occurs on Fridays — groups can even arrange “packing parties” in the evenings, which Holder said are “a lot of fun” and a “good way to be involved in the community” for businesses, teams and other groups.

JJ Packs also offers business sponsorships, where a business can sponsor JJ Packs for a week, a special holiday pack, or a peanut butter and jelly pack, Holder said.

Sponsorships are tax deductible and JJ Packs will promote business sponsors on their Facebook and highlight business sponsors in printed media, Holder said.

For more information on JJ Packs and how to contribute, Holder said interested parties can visit http://jjpacks.org/ or http://www.mapsnet.org/pages/kcarr/jjpacks/index.html or their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/jjpacks/.

For more information on Anytime Fitness Marquette and their fundraisers, interested parties can visit https://www.facebook.com/MQTanytimefitness/ or follow their Instagram page at @mqtanytime, Humes said.

Anytime Fitness of Marquette is located at 1175 W. Washington Street in Marquette and can be reached at 906-226-6000.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is cbrown@miningjournal.net.