BY JESSICA STEELEY
Clarkston News Staff Writer
Help a good cause this month by attending the Blessings in a Backpack 6th Annual Golf Outing on Sunday, Sept. 24, at Pine Knob Golf Course.
“It’s our largest fundraiser of the year. We always hope for it to bring in about 50 percent of the money we need to run the program,” Event Chairperson Kerri Gualtieri said.
The program feeds approximately 350 Clarkston students every weekend, Gualtieri said, and they also provide some food over the summer for kids.
“We have become one of the most successful programs in the state of Michigan because of the number of kids who receive help – financially we are stable, and also because we are the one group that actually provides some food for the kids during the summer,” she said.
Any Clarkston student who receives free or reduced lunch is eligible for the program. Participants take home meals in a backpack or cinch sack every weekend and return the empty bag on Monday to be refilled by volunteers for the next weekend.
“It’s somewhere between 70 to 100 volunteers every single week, in order to keep this program going. This is the seventh year we’ve had the program in Clarkston schools,” Gualtieri explained.
The program partners with Meijer for the food. Changing Places Moving company picks up the pallets from Meijer and delivers them to Waypoint Church for storage.
“The Clarkston community has been so generous to us and so supportive,” Gualtieri said. “The different people who come out and golf is pretty amazing.”
As a Sashabaw Middle School teacher, she’s able to personally see how Blessings in a Backpack helps the community. Gualtieri described a parent teacher conference she had where the mother of three Clarkston students said the program was a life-saver, without it she wouldn’t be able to feed her kids.
“That was really cool to hear firsthand because she had no idea how involved I was in it and she was willing to share that. This program is making differences with our kids in Clarkston,” Gualtieri said.
Registration for the Blessings in a Backpack Golf Outing opens at 8:30 on Sept. 24, with a shotgun start at 9:30. Golfers can enjoy breakfast before playing an 18-hole scramble. In the afternoon, there is a lunch buffet at the Carriage House along with a raffle and silent auction.
For golfing foursomes, the cost is $400, sponsorship’s for the outing start at $125.
“Our budget’s about $40,000 a year, so we always hope that the outing will bring in about $20,000,” Gualtieri said. “We are still looking for golfers, sponsors and donations for our raffle to make this year’s outing the best one yet.”