CHAMPAIGN — Daily Bread Soup Kitchen hopes to be able to give away at least 1,000 backpacks full of clothes, snacks and other items to its needy and homeless lunch guests this holiday season.
And the agency will need a lot of generous people to help by donating the filled backpacks, board member and volunteer Gina Stocking said.
The filled backpacks people donate are typically the only gifts Daily Bread's guests get, and folks line up outside the door on the annual giveaway day to receive one, she said.
This year's giveaway is set for Dec. 19 at New Covenant Fellowship in downtown Champaign, the weekday site for Daily Bread's hot-lunch service. People coming for backpacks will be given a sack lunch that day in lieu of a hot lunch, Stocking said.
"Last year, we gave out 1,000 backpacks, and I think we need at least that this year because our guests in the community keep growing and growing," Stocking said.
Daily Bread served 125,000 meals last year and is on track to serve 150,000 this year, Stocking said. About two-thirds of those who come for food are working poor in the community, and the rest are homeless, she said.
If you donate
■ Sturdy, new (or nearly new) backpacks are needed for adult men and women, filled with such items as new packages of underwear, warm hats, scarves, gloves, hand warmers, thermal clothing, sweatshirts, toothbrushes, toothpaste, lip balm, hand lotion, cough drops, shampoo, snack foods, and “anything you would normally use when you are out in the cold,” Stocking said.
■ When buying clothing items for men or women, choose sizes large, extra-large and 2X, she said.
“They like clothing big, we’ve found out through the years,” Stocking said. “They don’t like small sizes. They like to layer.”
This will be the fifth annual backpack giveaway, and Stocking said it will be done festively, with coffee and cookies and a visit from Santa.
Backpacks can be donated from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekdays Dec. 9-18 at Daily Bread Soup Kitchen at New Covenant Fellowship, 124 W. White St., C. They can also be donated any time by Dec. 18 to 705 or 713 S. Elm Blvd., C, Stocking said.