The Backpack Buddy program provides food to more than 300 hungry children in Thomas County.
The program started in the fall of 2009 when Rev. Mike Huling mentioned during his sermon at Thomasville First United Methodist Church his experience with the Backpack Buddy program in Statesboro.
Kathy Dyess, one of the founders of the Backpack Buddy program at First United Methodist, heard Huling’s sermon and decided to start the program along with Marion Neil. Dyess asked teachers how they knew children weren’t getting enough food on the weekends.
Is it because they came in on Monday mornings famished?
“They said the biggest indicator of who was hungry was when they saw children stuffing their pockets with food during lunch on Fridays. You always think the problem is somewhere else, but childhood hunger is everywhere,” said Dyess.
By February 2010, the program began providing food to children in need in Thomas County at Harper Elementary School.
Many churches quickly started getting involved. First Baptist Church began a Backpack Buddy program in January 2011 with 10 backpacks. Now it is filling 150 backpacks for the county schools. River Church of Thomasville and St. Luke CME partner to provide weekend snacks at Scott Elementary School. First Presbyterian Church packs backpacks for Macintyre Park Middle School. Dawson Street Baptist is in the beginning stages of working with Thomasville High School, while Gatlin Creek Baptist Church also has started the initial stages with Jerger Elementary School.
Two years after Hauling’s sermon, nearly all of the schools in Thomas County participate in the program.