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      31 Backpacks packs nearly 6,000 meals

      With the holiday break coming up for area schools, 31 Backpacks is spending Thursday evening putting together enough meals to last the whole break.

      Only in their second school year, 31 Backpacks has grown from serving just 31 students at CLK schools to 125 students from CLK to Chassell to Adams Township and everywhere in between.

      Three meals a day for 125 students over a 16 day break means volunteers are packing nearly 6,000 meals.

      â??We have been shopping non-stop for probably two weeks, getting deliveries from Sysco and the food bank and the local grocery stores and just hauling it in carload after carload after carload,â?? said 31 Backpacks co-founder, Melissa Maki.

      During the school year, volunteers typically pack individual meals for students each week, but now theyâ??re packing items so the students can make meals themselves.

      â??We try to mix it up really well. We made sure we had plenty of fruits and vegetables going home and some healthier snacks,â?? said Maki. â??I can tell you we snuck in little chocolate. It is a holiday after all!â??

      The students are recommended for the program by their teachers and principals. Volunteers said they hope to add more students to their list in the future.

      â??Normally we donâ??t see the kids,â?? said volunteer Kay Hoganson. â??Itâ??s not our goal to see where these go, but every once in a while theyâ??ll identify themselves.â??

      The meals are scheduled to be handed out Friday at two secret locations, known only to those in the program.

      Maki said they are always in need of volunteer help, packing and loading food, and that the work is always satisfying.

      â??This is all about the kids, making sure that these kids have food on the weekends or on vacations, whatever the case may be,â?? Hoganson said.

      â??I donâ??t know if youâ??ve tried to go without eating for a day, but Iâ??m just completely miserable,â?? Maki added. â??I canâ??t even put sentences together, and to imagine going for 16 days without having food, itâ??s heart-wrenching to think about it. Thatâ??s why we do it.â??

      For more information about volunteering with 31 Backpacks, contact founders Laurel Maki at and Melissa Maki at .