GREENVILLE — With the long-awaited end to the year of COVID cancellations, the warm spring weather inspired many to don their gowns, tuxedos and dancing shoes for last Friday evening’s Red & Yellow, Black & White Gala.
The biannual event, originally planned for last April, was held in the elegant ballroom of Romer’s Catering in Greenville, wherein attendees were treated to a delicious meal and dancing, along with opportunities to participate in a silent and live auction — all to benefit the Darke County BackPack Program. This year’s goal of $50,000 was reached and exceeded, thanks to the generosity of Darke County’s many donors and sponsors.
The Darke County BackPack program helps pre-K through 8th grade students (and their families) by providing nutritious and easy-to-prepare food needed to sustain them over the weekends, when not attending school. Volunteers from across Darke County assemble sacks of food and distribute to the participating schools each Friday. Then, designated volunteers deliver to classrooms where teachers confidentially slip the sack into the student’s backpacks to take home for the weekends.
Originally started in 2011 to benefit 80 students within the Greenville School district, the Darke County BackPack program, which is part of the Feeding America BackPack Program, now serves over 500 students within all of Darke County’s school districts, including Ansonia, Arcanum, Bradford, Franklin Monroe, Greenville, Mississinawa, Tri-Village, and Versailles. Throughout this school year, 15,000 backpacks have been distributed to children.
“The kids are so appreciative of the food that the BackPack program provides,” said Vickie Willcox, who has served as the Darke County BackPack Program Coordinator since 2015. “We have seen more participants, especially from the western part of Darke County where food insolvency is a more common occurrence. Essential seasonal migrant workers who help plant and harvest are especially impacted, and many Darke County families have had hard times due to COVID.”
Members of the Gala Committee were recognized at the start the evening, with opening remarks by Peggy Follrod, and speakers, Vickie Willcox, Darke County BackPack Coordinator, and Andrea Townsend of the Greenville City district. Gala Committee Chair Kelly Fliehman also thanked the Gala Committee and volunteers who helped make the evening a great success. Gala committee members included Rhonda Albers, Amanda Armstrong, Angie Arnold, Kristene Clark, Sandee Detrick, Kelly Fliehman, Peggy Follrod, Ashley Gilpin, Cindy McCallister, Paula Moody, Stephanie Morgan, Shelby Myers, Kathy O’Dell, and Renee Subler.
Special thanks were also extended to the program’s many volunteers who devote countless hours per week to serving Darke County’s children, especially those who go to the fairgrounds for delivery and to those who take the food to each school. Those volunteers included Stuart Beisner, Mike Beisner, Devon Limburg and Matthew Shook (Ansonia); Terri Greve, Jordan Greve and We are the Majority (Arcanum); Alice and Lary Shade, Frank Marchal, Ross Gruber, Kenny Mowry, Glen Etter and Bob Bittner (Bradford); Sue and Zane Baker (Franklin-Monroe); Amy Schoen, Mary Lee Moore and Senior Students in Careers with Children at GHS (Greenville); John and Beth Hannan, Sharon Jones, Rod Boone and Mark Amrine (Mississinawa Valley); Tami Scantland, Jacob, Josh and Molly Scantland, Alyssa and Taylor Begoon, and Lainey Miller (Tri-Village); and Karen Schultz, Maureen Subler, Pat and Vicki Monnin, Deb Philpot, and Michele Henniger (Versailles).
“I am so proud to live in our community! We came together for the Gala and made a huge difference in the lives of so many children last Friday night by raising over $55,000!” said Kelly Fliehman, Gala Committee Chair.“Thank you to everyone who donated through silent auction and live auction items, monetary donations, those who purchased corporate tables, who bid on items, and purchased candy bars for the raffle! You helped to make a difference!”
To support the Darke County BackPack Program, please send donations (of any amount) to BACKPACKS HELP, 8414 State Route 121, Greenville, OH 45331.