Blessings in a Backpack - Nevitt Elementary School
Waste Management Phoenix Open
By: Sara Moores
During the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the PGA TOUR Wives Association returned to Nevitt Elementary School for the third year of our Blessings initiative there. Members rolled up their sleeves and unpacked/unboxed the food and set up the stations, ready for the packing process. The children came through the lines, their backpacks opened and carried in front and the food placed inside. During this time, we chatted with the children as they walked through the line with smiling faces, shy glances and thankful hearts.
When the food was distributed, we broke into groups and met with the children in their classes. A secondary activity we had planned with the children was to write letters to deployed Navy SEALS. The teachers told us it was a great project as the children researched what the SEALS did and then began writing their letters. Some children read their letters to us while others needed assistance to complete them. The completed letters will be sent via the PGA TOUR’s military outreach to let those who are serving know that children care about them and admire what they are doing.
Schools participating in the Blessings program in Phoenix have all shown improved academics. Nevitt went from a “Performing Plus” school (based on AZ Dept of Education accountability system) to a “Highly Performing School” based on that same label in the years since Blessings has been available for the children. As their Assistant Principal, Andrew Lebowitz, commented “Blessings in a Backpack is much more than just a food program....it’s a program that fosters parental involvement, inspires the involvement of community organizations and contributes to student academic success." We couldn’t have said it better.
Our thanks to all of our partners in this very important initiative to feed hungry children, including Cheryl Ruggerio at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the Thunderbirds, who partner with us to fund the program, Laura Lavine, the manager of Frys, who personally handles the food and delivers it for distribution, the volunteers from the Sheraton Hotel as well as the other volunteers, parents and supporters who each week pack and distribute the food to the children and to all of the people involved locally that open their hearts to the children we support and help to make this program so successful.
Blessings in a Backpack
Farmers Insurance Open
By: Shauna Matteson
At the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego the PGA TOUR Wives had the pleasure to mix, mingle and pack backpacks full of food for the local school that Farmers sponsors. It was a year ago this week that the PTWA joined Farmers to kick off the start of the their sponsorship to the Doris Miller school in San Diego. Farmers joined Blessings in a Backpack to start the relationship and the end result is that kids are receiving backpacks with weekend food on each Friday. An interesting note about Doris Miller School is that most of the parents are military and so many of them are on deployments as we speak. It seems pretty special that in this particular school Farmers Insurance is helping children of our men and women that serve our country!
Wednesday’s packing event was short, sweet and fun. Volunteers and big wigs from Farmers Insurance joined the PTWA to walk down a very well laid out line of food stations. Food that was included in each backpack were applesauce, granola bars, juice boxes, ramen noodles, etc. It was great to get this group of people together and everyone really enjoyed making the rounds to pack as many backpacks as possible. At last count we had a grand total of about 60 volunteers and we had at least 20 of our own PTWA membership involved. As you know the PTWA sponsors schools in Phoenix and a Hawaii and several members have also started Blessings programs in their own local communities. And so it was very fitting for us to join and aid in packing the backpacks. The Blessings in a Backpack mission is near and dear to the hearts of the PTWA and we certainly want to thank Farmers Insurance for joining us in our desire to spread awareness and get more and more children the food they so badly need!
Blessings in a Backpack
Sony Open in Hawaii
The PGA TOUR Wives Association returned to Ke Kula ‘o Samuel M. Kamakau school to celebrate our third year of the Blessings in a Backpack program in Hawaii. This year, we were joined by Leilani Kupahu-Marino, who, through her vast knowledge of Hawaiian history, educated us on the many customs we would be experiencing at the school. Upon our arrival, she chanted the beautiful traditional Hawaiian greeting which asks for permission to enter the “home”. The children thenused the traditional Hawaiian responsive greeting and welcomed us back to the school.
In addition to packing the backpacks, we also spent the day playing traditional Hawaiian games with the children ‘ulu maika (lawn bowling); Moa pahee (dart sliding); O’oihe (spear throwing); Konane (Hawaiian checkers) and Hula. Kamakau is an immersion school where children are taught in the Hawaiian language and learn about Hawaiian culture in addition to regular academics. The children were warm and welcoming and it was wonderful to see so many familiar faces.
The PGA TOUR Wives Association has committed to supporting the Blessings in a Backpack program for another three years at Kamakau. We want to thank our partners, Mark and Debi Rolfing Foundation, Friends of Hawaii Charities and Sammy Hagar for continuing their support as well. The difference this program is making is seen in the improved test scores and reading skills in addition to other measurable differences.
We look forward to returning to see the beautiful keiki (children) again next year and again thank all of those partners and volunteers who come together each week to make the difference in the lives of these children.
To see Volunteer Service Projects from past years, go to Archives.