Waterford, Michigan -- Blessings in a Backpack, a charity that provides weekend meals for elementary school children in need, is the first recipient of a Brooksie Way Mini Grant.
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson made the award Thursday to the local chapter of the group during the grand opening of the Brooksie Way/Crim Fitness Foundation Satellite Training office in Rochester Hills. The charity will provide weekend meals for eligible students in the Rochester Schools. Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett recommended the charity for consideration.
"This is the first grant and I'm pleased that it will benefit children in both Rochester and Rochester Hills," Patterson said. "Both cities have worked tirelessly on behalf of the Brooksie Way. This is a small way for us to give back to them."
The grant was accepted by local program coordinator Kim Williams, who organized the program in Rochester Hills and obtained additional corporate donations to support it.
"With the support of the Brooksie Way Mini Grant, and the dedication of Rochester Hills residents like Kim Williams, we are now able to officially launch the Rochester Hills “Blessings in a Backpack," Barnett said. "This is a great way for Rochester Hills to see first hand, one of the many positive impacts that the Brooksie Way Half Marathon and 5K has brought to our community."
Blessings in a Backpack is a national program that feeds school children who are eligible for free or reduced meals during the school day. The Michigan chapter also runs the program in Avondale and Clawson and several other districts in the region.
Thursday's grant will fund a pilot program in four elementary schools through the end of the school year, said Cheryl Whitton, president of Blessings in a Backpack – Michigan Advisory Board. Without the grant, the pilot program would not have begun before fall at the earliest. There are 1,800 school children eligible for the program in the district. Every Friday, students receive their backpacks with staples that require little or no preparation. Contributions to the program are tax deductible.
"With the downturn in the economy, there are people who didn't need assistance before but now are in dire need," Whitton said. "If we can help those people and keep them here, it only makes for a stronger community."
Patterson announced in his recent State of the County address that proceeds from the Brooksie Way Half Marathon would be used to fund a $50,000 mini grant program to support health and fitness activities in the county. Grants amounts are up to $2,000.
A second grant will be given out on Saturday during the Oakland University-North Dakota State men’s basketball game to the OU men’s and women's track and cross-country teams.
The Brooksie Way Half Marathon is named in honor of Brooks Stuart Patterson, a young father and son of the county executive, who died after an accident in 2007. The 2010 Brooksie Way Half Marathon and 5k races are set for Oct. 3.
The Brooksie Way is presented by Oakland County and the Crim Fitness Foundation, and is sponsored by HealthPlus and Citizens Bank. For more information on the race or the grant program please visit thebrooksieway.com.
Steve Huber, Marketing & Communications Officer, Oakland County Economic Development & Community Affair Office (248) 858-1848 or Cell (248) 830-9846
Deb Kiertzner, Race Director, Brooksie Way Half Marathon (810) 235-3397