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Buckhannon Toyota donates $20,000 to backpack programs

The Inter-Mountain photo by Amanda Hayes From left are Upshur County Schools superintendent Dr. Sara Stankus, B-UHS principal Eddie Vincent, Buckhannon Toyota general manager Kip Cottrill, Union Elementary principal Michelle Fleming, assistant superintendent Dr. Debra Harrison, Rock Cave principal Amanda Craig, Buckhannon Academy principal Susanne Britton, Hodgesville Elementary principal Janet Phillips, Buckhannon Toyota president Jason Minsker and Tennerton Elementary principal Tristen Gray.

BUCKHANNON — The cupboards for the backpack programs at Upshur County Schools will be a little fuller thanks to a sizable donation from Buckhannon Toyota.

On Monday, the local dealership donated $20,000 to Upshur County Schools which will be distributed to all seven elementary schools, Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School and Buckhannon-Upshur High School.

Buckhannon Toyota President Jason Minsker said, “We know it is important. This means a lot to a lot of people here. We have talked about it a lot. This is a great program and we are glad to help.”

Superintendent Dr. Sara Stankus said the backpack programs in each school provide needed food items to help students through weekends and holidays.

“We are so blessed in this community with people who are generous, who care about the families and the students,” she said. “In our schools, we are sending backpacks of food home every weekend to help families who have food deprivation or who have some sort of need. I’m just so thankful that Buckhannon Toyota stepped up to help our community like this.”

Damon Rose, general manager for Central Atlantic Toyota, was on hand for the presentation.

“Certainly when Jason told us about it, we were thrilled to come and see it happen,” Rose said. “Pound for Pound, he is one of our better Toyota dealers in the Northeast and especially in the North Atlantic area. A lot of that is because of his employment philosophy and connection to the community.”

Kip Cottrill, general manager for Buckhannon Toyota, said, “We are glad to do it because it’s a great program and the impact it makes on a ton of families. We are glad to give to back to a community that has been extremely good to us.”

Stankus said once this money goes out to the schools, the schools have their own programs.

“The PTO moms and grandmas who clip coupons go out to the grocery stores with their coupons so they can buy more with less. Then those volunteers who come in every Friday to school, they will pack these bags and put them in the locker.”

At the high school, the program uses wellness packs.

“It’s different in each community school but this money is far-reaching and we really take spending other people’s money seriously. We want to get every bit out of it that we can.”

Minsker said learning about the volunteers and the amount of effort going into the program was another reason to make such a large contribution.

“There are so many people out there putting in all this time and effort,” he said.

Tennerton Elementary principal Tristen Gray said, “We couldn’t express our gratitude enough, really. It goes so far.”

Principal at Rock Cave Elementary, Amanda Craig, explained that even at a small school, the costs are large for the backpack program.

“It cost us about $5,000 a year for 10 months,” she said.

Assistant superintendent Dr. Debra Harrison said, “I was in a meeting this morning and I was saying I needed to be back for this because we were getting a $20,000 donation for the backpack program. The question was,’ will that go very far?'”

And Harrison said, yes.

“This will do wonders for the backpack program. Our kids are very blessed to have a caring community.”