Hello Everyone! My name is Stacy Coyle and over the last nine years I have served as the local coordinator for the Packing for the Weekend Program in Cannon Falls. For those of you not familiar with the Packing for the Weekend program, it provides food to in-need families over the weekend. About 20-25% of kids in the Cannon Falls schools are on free and reduced meals. For many kids, the school breakfast and lunch might be the only food they have in a day. So, what happens on the weekends when school is not in session? This program provides students with a backpack filled with breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and fruit along with vouchers for milk and bread from Family Fare. Once a month, a voucher also goes home for a dozen eggs. The backpacks are delivered to the students on Friday, every week school is in session.
How did it start?
About nine years ago Maureen Nelson, the Executive Director of the United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha and Pierce Counties, brought the program to the Rotary Club of Cannon Falls. After hearing about the program, the Rotary decided to co-sponsor the program. The Cannon Falls Rotary has held several fundraisers for the program. Under their care, tens of thousands of dollars have been raised to support this program. Today, the program is primarily funded by the United Way. The Rotary continues to fund 10-20% of the program. The local program costs between $8,000 and $10,000 annually. The United Way administers the financial side of the program. They pay the bills and track the donations to the program.
Local Management of the Program
The Cannon Falls Rotary and I manage the day-to-day operations of the program. Rotarians meet the volunteers each week to pack the backpacks. School personnel deliver the backpacks to kids each week. School staff also help inform families they think would benefit from the program and serve as backup packing volunteers in the event someone is not able to pack the bags. We have five groups of volunteers that help pack the bags each week. They include the Knights of Columbus, Minnesota Honors Society students, Interact students, Cannon Equipment employees and Keith Meyers Financial employees.
One of my responsibilities is ordering food from Channel One Food Bank. This is the same food bank who supply the Cannon Falls Food Shelf. I also take care of deciding which food to send home each week, setting up the food for the volunteers and managing backpacks for families entering/exiting the program. I schedule/send reminders to the volunteers for packing and unload the food deliveries from Channel One. Recently, I have had two women come and help me unload food deliveries. It has been nice to have the help with the heavy lifting! 😊
Currently, we have 21 families participating in the program. There are four middle/high school families and 17 elementary school families. The 21 bags are reaching 53 kids. When the program first started we were sending home between 25 and 30 backpacks. Our numbers have dropped slightly, I think in part due to the better economy at least before recent events.
Because there is such a stigma around taking food home from school, we send the food home in a backpack for the students at the elementary school. At the middle/high school level, we chose to send the food home in duffle bags. The stigma seems harder for the older kids. Carrying two backpacks is more obvious than carrying a backpack and duffle bag – perhaps carrying sports equipment instead of food.
Also to ensure the families’ privacy, I do not know which families are enrolled in the program. The school’s social workers and counselors deal directly with the families. It is therefore a rare opportunity for me to receive feedback from the families. Occasionally, I will find a ‘Thank you’ card tucked in one of the backpacks as I am prepping it for the next week. The school social workers will also occasionally pass along a ‘Thank you’ received either in person or in a card.
Due to recent world events with emergence of the Covid-19 virus, Monday, March 16 was the last day students were in the school buildings. We were able to pack bags to send home with kids on Monday along with two weeks’ worth of vouchers. I had also embossed two more weeks of vouchers that will be sent home this week by school personnel. The decision has been made that as long as the school buildings are closed to outside people, we will not be packing backpacks. Channel One Food Bank has also suspended any deliveries for backpack programs. They are trying to focus their efforts on supporting the local food shelves in their service area.
Please note, the school is currently providing a breakfast and lunch to any students under the age of 18 with plans to continue as long as schools remain closed. These meals are available for pick up Monday through Friday at the elementary school building. A drive through is set up for the meals so no one needs to leave their vehicle to receive the meals.
How to help
The best and most cost effective method to help this program is to donate money. When I first started ordering food for the program, I was shocked at how far I could make a dollar stretch. As an example, a box of cereal priced at roughly $2.00 in the store, can often be purchased in a case of 12 boxes of cereal for the same amount.
That is not to say I wouldn’t accept canned goods. I have had people donate canned goods to the program and I am happy to receive them. I would caution, these are backpacks going home with very young kids is some instances so I cannot use any glass jars. The probability of breakage is too great. I also cannot accept any perishable food as I have no way to store it or send it home safely.
Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. I am always happy to answer any questions. Please everyone – stay home, stay safe and be healthy!
Just an update for this weekend’s Youth Bake Sale Fundraiser. The City Wide Yard Sale # 12 to be held at 715 W Mill St, Cannon Falls has been cancelled for this weekend (9/21/19) due to Illness. But The Youth Bake Sale Fundraiser / Yard Sale has been MOVED to next weekend (9/28/19). We will be setup in the back yard with all the other treasures being sold. Along with the Bake Sale, a portion of the yard sale will go to the Youth of the 1st Congregational Church for their mission trip in the summer of 2020. If you have any questions please call Cindy Mae @ 507-951-3117.
Come one come all to the Youth Bake Sale at the City Wide Yard Sale Fundraiser at 715 W Mill st Cannon Falls MN. We will be setup in the back yard with all the other treasures being sold. Along with the Bake Sale, a portion of the yard sale will go to the Youth of the 1st Congregational Church for their mission trip. The Sale is on Sept 21.
Come one come all, hear from the youth that went to Parma, OH on their mission trip, June 16-22. They will be giving the sermon on Sunday July 7th. At the First Congregational Church of Cannon Falls MN. The church service starts at 9:30am
It is Saturday, June 22. WOW…… Where did the week go. It seems that it was just yesterday that we were packing up the vehicles to leave on our mission trip. Well a week has gone by and all our projects are completed. We packed up, checked out, and prayed for safe travels by 8 am. We drove about 4 hours to the next stop just north of Howe, IN, where we got gas and switched vehicles. Joe’s vehicle occupants went to see Ella in Green Bay, WI, where she is working as summer staff next week (June 23-29). They got into Green Bay, WI. about 8:40 pm. The rest of us went on to Cannon Falls, in the RV. We got into Cannon Falls, MN. about 9:30 pm.
When I spoke with the youth and adults that went on our trip, they said that they loved it and would go again. Next year we are looking at going to Sheboygan, WI, which is June 21- 27. The one thing I can say is, I’m glad I went as a Red Shirt this year, but I did miss being with our Youth during their youth group devotions and hearing what they had to say. So the next time I might go to two camps; one as a Red Shirt, and a second camp as a camper with the youth.
Just a few facts on how we, the participants at this camp, impacted the community:
* There were 197 campers, from 13 different churches and 9 states
* There were 33 different work crews
* There were 25 different work sites (projects)
* All 25 work site projects were completed
* We worked 5,910 total hours during the week
* There were 425 items donated to the community food shelf, including cash donations.
Thank you to all our home church members who contributed to the food shelf and our camp scholarships.
Also just a reminder to come to church on July 7th. The Youth will be giving the Sermon that Sunday. They will be telling of their experience from camp.
Thanks again for all your support!!
It is Friday, June 21. Our last day of camp. There is No Rain. The campers are coming back to the school one Crew at a time. Homes are being completed. If a crew was finished by 2pm, they were being moved to another site that was needing the help. We completed 100% of our work sites. So both Brian and Chuck, one of the host, will get a whip cream pie tonight at program. That was awesome. Some of our Youth were on Channel 8 News. See link below. Plus I hate to say that our Red Shirts lost to the 3on3 team from Cannon Falls.
Today along with all of my responsibility this week, I rode along with the Camp Director, Brian, getting some training on how to be a camp director. That was fun. While I was out with Brian, we saw 2 sites being interviewed and filmed for the channel 8 news in Parma OH. https://fox8.com/2019/06/21/teens-spending-summer-vacation-making-home-repairs-for-families/
Friday’s Theme is:GOD WANTS US TO PURSUE HIM (every day!) God has a heart for you, long after camp is over! Psalm 63:1-8. What happens at your mission trip doesn’t have to end or stay in that community. It can be the beginning or the next step in your relentless pursuit of God. Our last day will help us realize that God wants us to pursue him every day of our lives.
In morning program we focused on Psalm 71:17-18. We read that scripture and then asked ourselves how David’s words can be applied to our life today. Then the Crew devotions continue on with that same scripture from this morning and how it relates to Relentless. For the Evening program, the residents were invited to come for the program. We read scripture from Psalm 63,
continuing on Davids life. The youth Group Devotion continuing on the same theme.
We will be leaving Saturday morning about 8am after 7:30 check out. We will be home later that evening. Also just a reminder that the youth will be doing the sermon on July 7th at 9:30am at the 1st Congo Church.
It is Thursday, June 20th. The week is about over and the youth are trying so hard to get their site projects done for by 3:30 pm Friday. They were told if we get 100% of the Camps Sites completed that Chuck (one of the Camp Host) and Brian (the Camp Director) will take a Whip Cream PIE in the Face. As of this evening they have about 3 sites out of 25 Completed. About 90% of the sites have some type of panting that is needing to be done. But due to the Rain we had late this morning and early afternoon, some of those sites have been delayed.
Today they had a 3 on 3 tournament. Our Youth had a team and they won. Now they play my team, the Red Shirt on Friday afternoon.
My responsibilities have been about the same all week long. But today I got some Site Coach Training with Jeff and Mark 2 of the Site Coaches that are at this camp. The Awesome Summer Staff, stated the other day that I was crazy, but they love me for it.
Thursday’s Theme is: GOD FORGIVES YOU (for everything!) Moving forward, past your sin. The story of David and Bathsheba. 2 Samuel 11. No matter what we’ve done or thought, God forgives us. It’s sometimes hard to believe or understand but it’s always true. David’s example will be our guide as we learn that truth for ourselves. God forgives… all of it.
During the morning program we focused on Psalm 51:1-3;7-10. We talked about sin we/you struggled with the most – the one you keep saying you won’t do anymore. Then with this sin in mind and remembering what Psalm 51 states. Then we read Psalm 51 again slowly as a prayer and made it our own. In our Crew Devotions, we we continue to read Psalm 51 talking about Sin and Transgressions. In the evening program we talked about forgiveness. How God can forgive our sons. Then for our Youth Group Devotions we read 2 Samuel 12:7-9,13-14. The scripture talks of how God sends his prophet Nathan to confront David of his Sin.
It is Wednesday, June 19th. Along with my other responsibilities for the day today, I helped the campers get their lunches for the day and instead of taking pictures I followed a site coach around to different sites.
Today is our half day. So the Youth are on their sites trying to get as much down by noon due to we are looking at rain Thursday morning. The youth were back to the school by noon. They cleaned up and we were off to our youth group outing .
Our Youth Group split up in to groups. Glen and Ethan went to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame with another youth group. They really enjoyed the time they were there. Then the rest of the group drove around to some of the youth’s work sites to see what they are doing and see their progress. Then we went over to one of John Coyle’s friends(Judy & Vince). From there we went to the Squire’s Castle. While John C. and Jon S. visited with Judy and Vince about the Castle’s History, the rest of us went swimming for an hour. We went back to Judy and Vince’s house for supper. We had Hamburgers and Hot Dogs. It was an AWESOME Meal.
Wednesday’s Theme is: GOD WANTS YOU TO HAVE RELATIONSHIPS (they’re a big deal!) God desires you to have friendship. 1 Samuel 20:16-17, 42. Relationships are a big deal for all of us. And yet sometimes, they are very difficult. A great example of real friendship was between David and Jonathan. They both had reasons to hate each other… to actually kill each other. But they ended up being the most loyal and committed friends.
During morning program we focused on John 13:35. After reading it slowly. We were asked to think about this: What can impact the way you interact with people and Jesus today? In our Crew Devotions we continue to look at John 13:35 and then John 15:13. Think about this: What is one way you can improve your efforts to be a better friend? For our evening program we talked about Friendship. We were asked to think of your best friend and how do they have your back like Jonathan did for David. Also what kinds of things make someone a good friend? The youth devotions was based off tonight’s evening program.
It is Tuesday, June 18th. The weather today is partly sunny and so far no rain. Along with my other responsibilities for the day, today I helped the campers get their lunches for the day, worked in the Camp Office, and because I did such an Awesome job with the Camp Store they asked if I could work it again.
There are 13 different Youth Groups at this camp.
Spoke with some of our youth today. They stated they are having lots of fun. Between doing the Get Down Dance from by Audio Adrenaline during the evening program to working with their doing the site project. Most of them are doing painting and with some construction. They are mostly replacing the bad boards and putting in some new steps.
One thing I forgot to mention yesterday, they introduced CARE CARDS. Here is the website that explains care cards better then I can. It is about Teddy and Fluffy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLKINK4YydE . I LOVE this video and I hope you do too.
Today’s theme for Tuesday: GOD IS WITH YOU (always!) God helps you overcome. The story of David and Goliath. 1 Samuel 17. No matter what we’re going through, God is with us. It’s not always easy to see or know but God is right there with us. As we explore the story of David and Goliath, we will discover that the most important difference between David (the shepherd boy) and Goliath, (the giant warrior) was that God was with David.
In our Morning Program today, we read Psalm 139:1-10 slowly. Then paused when something jumped out at us. Then asked yourself, what were the day’s highs and lows for the pass 24 hrs. In the Crew Devotions, we read 1 Samuel 17:34-35. Can you imagine having that kind of Confidence as David did when facing Goliath? Then we continued on with that Scripture for our Youth Group and also read 1 Samuel 17:37. Then asked,”Why did David know that he will not be alone?”