A record-breaking fundraiser is helping Knox students and members of the Galesburg community provide food to local elementary school students.
This year's Blessings, Blues, and Brews fundraiser for Blessings in a Backpack raised more than $23,500, which is $6,000 more than was raised at the event in 2017. More than a dozen organizations and individuals donated to the event, including the Galesburg Lions Club, Bon Appetit, and the Michael Jordan Organization.
"We raised enough money to feed 235 kids for an entire year in a single event," said Joel Estes, Blessings in a Backpack advisor and chair of educational studies. "This is a celebration of our community and the spirit of giving."
The Blessings in a Backpack program provides area elementary school children who might not have enough to eat with kid-friendly, nonperishable, nutritious, easy-to-prepare food. Each week during the school year, students, faculty, and staff volunteers from Knox College come together with members of the Galesburg community to bag food for the students to take home with them on the weekends.
The organization's Galesburg chapter began in 2010 as a collaboration between Knox College students, Estes, First Presbyterian Church, and Galesburg School District #205. The initiative began with one school and served 42 students. Today, the program serves 436 students in all five of Galesburg's public elementary schools.
More than 150 students volunteer for Blessings in a Backpack. In addition to donating their time, students donate meal swipes from their own meal plans to ensure that elementary students receive fresh fruit every week.
"Being a part of Blessings in a Backpack is an incredible journey. It has helped me recognize my privilege and use my place in the community to help school-going children," says Amn Farooq, who has been a volunteer for Blessings in a Backpack since 2017. "It feels amazing to see Knox students and Galesburg community members come together every week to show their support for children of the community."