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NPE PTO Receives Mini-Grant for Backpack Program

Thursday, July 13, 2017

During a parent conference five years ago, Nate Perry Elementary kindergarten backpackteacher Pam Moquin couldn’t believe what she was hearing – a student’s family had fallen on hard times and the children often went to school hungry.

“I couldn’t bear it,” said Moquin, who is also the NPE Parent-Teacher Organization’s co-vice president. “This was not okay.”

The conversation inspired the NPE PTO to expand the efforts of the school’s food pantry by sending students home on Friday afternoons with backpacks filled with food and toiletries for the weekend.

To help the NPE PTO purchase items that are not often included in the backpacks, Music for the Mission recently awarded the group a 2017 Mini-Grant worth $1,500. The non-profit organization sponsors local musical events and re-directs proceeds to organizations focused on the hungry and homeless in Central New York.

“Most people would be surprised to know that families at NPE rely on the food pantry during the year,” said PTO Co-President Dina D’Ononfrio-Aubel when the backpack program began five years ago. “Some students leave school on Fridays and don’t get another full meal until Monday morning – a harsh reality that no one should have to face, especially a child.”

The last two years, the NPE Backpack Program has helped 13 families. A few additional families have received backpacks for short periods of time when a parent is out of work or the family is having a hard time making ends meet.

“Every day there are children who are hungry,” Moquin said. “It does happen here.”

This is not the first time the NPE PTO has been recognized for its Backpack Program. In 2013, the group received the Outstanding Community Service Project Award as part of PTO Today’s National Parent Group of the Year Contest.

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