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United Way luncheon helps hungry kids in Douglas County

Backpack Attack helps about 450 children in Douglas and Pope counties.

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Ernest Klennert, left, and Jim Phillips, both of Alexandria, pack bags with cereal, pudding, fruit cups and more during the local United Way Backpack Attack effort at Broadway Ballroom Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022.
Al Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press
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ALEXANDRIA — The 150 attendees of the United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties annual luncheon on Wednesday, Nov. 16 finished their meal on a high note — helping hungry kids.
The United Way formed two fast-moving assembly lines to put food into bags — canned soup and pasta, fruit cups, granola bars, milk, juice, cereal and more — as part of the Backpack Attack effort.
The food will be placed in backpacks and distributed to schools in Douglas County.
They packed 2,000 bags. On the previous day, 1,000 bags were packed in Glenwood and will be distributed to students in Pope County schools.
The effort means more than just bags of food.
For many families, it's a difference-maker, according to United Way leaders. They read testimonials of how grateful some families were for the Backpack Attack program:
A fifth-grader said that he liked the food because he could make it himself and it made him feel "grown up." Another child was thankful for getting extra food and snacks for the weekend. A single mom said the assistance helped her family through a difficult time and she hopes to someday donate back to the effort.
For many children, school meals may be the only meals they get, according to United Way leaders. So when children finish school on Friday, they won't have much to eat until Monday. Backpack Attack fills the gap by providing local students nutritious and easy-to-prepare food for the weekends.
Backpack Attack helps about 450 children in Douglas and Pope counties. For $5, a child receives a bag full of food for over the weekend or for long holiday breaks.
Wednesday's luncheon took place at the Broadway Ballroom in Alexandria. It included a prayer, a summary of United Way programs in 2021-2022 and background on Backpack Attack followed by the packing effort.
Packing partners for the Backpack Attack included Calvary Lutheran Church, Henry's Foods and Cardboard Cares.
To learn more about the local United Way or how to support its programs, go to its website, https://uwdp.org/.

Al Edenloff is the editor of the twice-weekly Echo Press. He started his journalism career when he was in 10th grade, writing football and basketball stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent.
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