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Ozarks Food Harvest Helps Kids Get Ready for School

A local food bank and a women's philanthropy organization combined efforts this morning to make sure kids stomachs are full as they head off to school. KSMU's Kristian Kriner reports.

Some volunteers packed boxes full of Power Ranger and Barbie toothbrushes, while others sorted packages of mint toothpaste and mouthwash.

Ozarks Food Harvest and Springfield's Female Leaders in Philanthropy participated in United Way's Day of Caring by filling backpacks for needy children in Springfield.

Volunteers from the local CHASE customer service center were also on hand to help.

The backpacks will be delivered to children that are on the free and reduced lunch list before school starts.

Bart Brown is the director of Ozarks Food Harvest.

He says the backpacks will be delivered to 28 area schools.

"You really can't be in the present because all you are thinking about is when I am going to eat again and what will it be, so this program takes that off their shoulders so they can come to school ready to learn instead of desperate for their school breakfast," Brown said.

Brown says the response from the children is overwhelming because the backpacks make the kids feel important.

Female Leaders in Philanthropy helped raise funds to expand the number of schools receiving the backpacks this year.

Nancy O'Reilly is the chairperson for Female Leaders in Philanthropy.

She says these backpacks will not just help the children now, but also later in their lives.

"Children that are not hungry, that have food on the weekends come to school ready to listen and to learn. And basically what happens is they end up being healthier, our community is healthier, so the end result is hopefully they complete their high school education they go on to be productive citizens and good members of our community," O'Reilly said.

Ozarks Food Harvest will deliver the backpacks to the children on Friday before they go back to school.

For KSMU News, I'm Kristian Kriner.