HANCOCK - A program to distribute food to students who may not have enough to eat has expanded, and the organizers were busy Thursday packing up 11 days worth of food to be delivered.
At Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church, 10 people were working to pack plastic trash bags with enough food to last each student for the 11 days of the winter break.
Since the food is supposed to last the entire winter break, there is far more than the group's members usually deliver, so a trooper from the Michigan State Police Calumet post and an officer from the Michigan Tech University police department helped with the deliveries using their own vehicles.
From left, Melissa Maki, Sue Church and Laurel Maki fill bags Thursday at Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church in Hancock with food to be distributed to students at the Calumet, Laurium & Keweenaw Public Schools and Lake Linden-Hubbell Public Schools. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette photo by Kurt Hauglie)
Since last spring, 31 Backpacks Inc. has taken bags of food to the Public Schools of Calumet, Laurium & Keweenaw. School representatives then packed the food into backpacks for students to take home.
About two-thirds of C-L-K students qualify for the federal free or reduced-cost lunch program.
Laurel Maki got the idea for the program from a similar one in Phoenix.
The name for the company came about after Maki received an e-mail from school district superintendent about how many children need help in the school district.
"He wrote back, '31 backpacks,' " she said.
The project started at the beginning of October, Maki said, and the group is helping 42 students at C-L-K, and five students at the Lake Linden-Hubbell Public Schools. After the holidays, the program will expand to the Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Area Schools.
"We needed to get through Christmas (before expanding)," she said.
Melissa Maki of 31 Backpacks said since October, at least 12 trips have been made to C-L-K to deliver bags of food, which is purchased mainly at Tadych's Econo Foods in Houghton.
Laurel Maki said the food is purchased with monetary donations and, so far, the donations have been sufficient.
"We have enough money coming in every week to provide," she said. "We're getting donations from all over the country."
However, Laurel Maki said the organization, which is a 501 c3 nonprofit, still needs donations, which can be taken to any Century 21 Real Estate office in Calumet, Houghton or L'Anse, or dropped at the C-L-K schools. They can also be mailed to 1100 Century Way, Suite C, Houghton, MI 49931, attention Laurel Hoganson Maki. For more information, call Laurel Maki at 482-0001, ext. 207.