Fort Smith Community Packs The Truck

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Volunteers in Fort Smith came together with a local charity in an effort to "Pack the Truck" and keep River Valley kids from going hungry. All donations made through this food drive went directly to the Backpack Program at Community Services Clearinghouse.

The program helps more than 2,000 kids in the River Valley area get nutritious and east to prepare food they need over the course of the weekend, Rick Foti, the Executive Director of Community Services Clearinghouse said.

"It's set up to help kids who are basically not getting good food on the weekend. They have their last full meal at noon on Friday," Foti said. "Some of the kids wouldn't eat again until Monday morning if it weren't for this program."

Community Services Clearinghouse works to make sure that kids get the food they need over the weekend by sending students home from school with a backpack Friday afternoon, full of food they can eat over the weekend.

"We've tried to provide a sack of good nutritious food that kids will eat," Foti explained. "So it's going to look like snacks but that's ok because it's what kids eat. We deliver that to them every Friday afternoon and they take that home in their backpack."

But to get the food they need to send home with the kids, Arvest Bank teamed up with Community Services Clearinghouse to "Pack the Truck" Friday (Mar. 15) and bring in as many food donations as they could.

"Most of what we do for the kids through the course of the year we have to pay for," Foti said. "There's very little that's donated. Nearly half of the amount that is donated comes from this one drive."

"This encouragement just brings everyone up," Edward Merida, a Partners in Education volunteer from Northside High School, said. "It gives them a sense to do the good. You know more reasons to do what is expected."

Organizers said the community's participation in the drive reminds them just how important it is to give back.

If you missed the drive Friday, organizers said they'll be back out at the Arvest Tower on Rogers in Fort Smith Saturday (Mar. 16) from 9 - 11. You can take donations to the Community Clearinghouse offices on Wheeler Ave. as well.

For more information about the Backpack Program, CLICK HERE.