Energy Express packs backpacks with food donations

Energy Express participants and leaders at Third Ward Elementary School in Elkins worked Thursday to help give back to their community by providing help to others in need.

The group gathered more than $400 in food for the Backpack Project through the First United Methodist Church of Elkins.

The Energy Express program serves more than 70 children in Randolph County, providing two meals a day and reading-based educational activities that help children maintain their reading skills and good nutrition during the summer months.

Site coordinator for the program, Linda Mullenax, said the group chose to help the Backpack Project because of the nutrition connection with Energy Express.

“More and more kids struggle on the weekend to get fed,” Mullenax said. “The project just really fit with our purpose and needed to help all of the schools we represent which are Beverly, Midland, Third Ward, Coalton, Jennings Randolph and North Elementary schools.”

Funds for food were donated by the Randolph County Family Resource Network, Mountain Valley Bank and the Alpha Delta Cappa Phi Chapter. Food donations were also gathered from donation boxes located at different markets in the area. Crazy Harry’s also donated several backpacks for the program.

The Rev. Dallas Forren, pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Elkins, said he is happy to receive the Energy Express donation.

“Our church has been getting the backpacks from the schools and filling them with food and returning them to the schools for distribution each Friday for the last two to three years,” Forren said. “The backpacks are unmarked and are given to the students, filled with food for them to use over the weekend. The backpacks are returned each Monday, and representatives from the church collect them, refill them and distribute them back at the schools each Thursday.”

Forren said the schools identify students who need backpacks and call the church with the number of backpacks needed each week.

“We do not know who they are given to – it is completely confidential,” Forren said. “We fill and distribute between 100 and 110 back packs per week.”