Students Maintain Long-Standing Relationship with Micah's Backpack

Saint James School is a long-standing sponsor of the Micah’s Backpack program. The program is designed to feed hungry students through a partnership between elementary schools in the Washington County Public School system and sponsoring organizations in the community.  Brought to Washington County in 2010, the program now serves more than 1,000 students in 34 schools and involves partnerships with more than 50 churches and organizations.

Former chaplain Father Daniel started Saint James School’s participation in Micah’s Backpack, which was kept up by Father Keyes, and now by current chaplain Father Montgomery, in their roles as service learning coordinators at SJS.  Jennifer Martirano, registrar and community service coordinator, has also been instrumental in keeping the program running. 

Kali Mahoney ’22 and Ezra Burdette ’23 are in charge of running the program on campus this year. Saint James provides 10 bags to students at Emma K. Doub Elementary School.  Kali said the bags are filled with two breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, two fruits and vegetables, a few snacks, and milk or juice. 
“It’s all warm-up meals, something that’s easy for the kids to do at home, like the Hormel meals or Easy Mac; something they can put in the microwave because most people have access to a microwave,” said Ezra.

Each week, Kali coordinates a group of five students to help pack, with more than 40 students volunteering their time throughout the year.  If Saint James is heading into a break, the students will pack 20 or 30 bags so that the students who rely on getting the food don’t miss a week.

As a sponsoring organization, Saint James receives a certain allotment per child to order food from the Maryland Food Bank each quarter.  Money from the Chaplain’s Discretionary Fund is used to purchase additional food still needed.  In February, Kali and Ezra also organized a food drive by form, and the form with the most donations earned a casual day. 

“I enjoy knowing that I’m helping these kids out. They need it, and if we didn’t send the bags, they might not have a full meal to eat,” said Kali. 

Mrs. Martirano said the students also put positive notes in the bags, and if a holiday is approaching, they will include cards and other special treats.  She said they have also included surveys in the past in an effort to find out what the kids like or don’t like.
“We try to really put thought into it and make it personal,” she said. “We want the kids to like it and be happy with what they are getting.” 

Last year, when Saint James was hybrid, Luke Norris ‘21 was a virtual student who coordinated the program from afar.  He would meet Mrs. Martirano at the grocery store to shop for food, and Kali and Ezra would manage the students packing the bags on campus.  Luke would then pick up the bags to deliver to the elementary school.  Ezra said he enjoyed stepping up last year to help those in the community.

“Kali and I both grew up in Boonsboro, so we live in this community and know kids who are less fortunate,” Ezra said. “It’s also cool to see Saint James students who are from all over the world helping the local community that you grew up in.”

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