Holy Cross kids help soup kitchen, one backpack at a time

Holy Cross kids help soup kitchen, one backpack at a time

CHAMPAIGN — It was a heart-warming sight for Ellen Harms: Holy Cross School students walking in a big group to Daily Bread Soup Kitchen carrying backpacks stuffed with many of life's necessities to be given away to the homeless and needy of Champaign-Urbana.

"They were so proud to be bringing them in," said Harms, a Daily Bread board member.

Daily Bread begins its annual backpack giveaway at 11 a.m. today (Thursday, Dec. 19), and about 100 of the 1,000 filled backpacks it sought from community donors were brought Wednesday by Holy Cross students, Harms said.

The backpacks are given to Daily Bread's lunch guests as a holiday gift.

Mary Tate, a fourth-grade teacher at Holy Cross, said making the backpacks was an Advent service project for students in kindergarten through seventh grades.

The students brought in items from home to assemble the backpacks, and that included such things as hats, gloves, socks, hand-warmers, candy, sweat pants, sweat shirts, toothbrushes, toothpaste, lip balm, long underwear, candy, shampoo and other personal care items, Tate said.

The Catholic school in central Champaign and Daily Bread already have a close connection, she says. Many students' parents and grandparents volunteer at the soup kitchen, and different grades at the school take turns each month bringing milk and fruit to the kitchen.

Homelessness isn't just something Holy Cross students have read about, Tate said.

"These are people that they pray for all the time, and getting to be able to do something for them puts their faith and service to action," she said.

This year is Daily Bread's fifth annual backpack give-away at New Covenant Fellowship, 124 W. White St., C.

The soup kitchen served 125,000 meals last year and is on track to serve 150,000 this year, said Gina Stocking, another board member. About two-thirds of the people who come for food are working poor in the community, and the rest are homeless, she said.

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