President and Founder Isobel Costello created the Weekend Bag Program about four years ago when students shared how they did not know what they would do over the weekend without school breakfasts and lunches.
In response to the need, Costello, and family, organized food and hygiene products anonymously to battle juvenile food insufficiency in Sussex County schools. During the 2018-19 school year, the program distributed approximately 14,640 meals, costing around $30,000.
For the upcoming 2019-20 school year, The Weekend Bag Program anticipates 150 more students to be placed in the program, increasing the cost to approximately $100,000.
Supporting the program, local schools are coming together to help. The Hamburg Board of Education donated their board room and became the official storage, drop off, pickup destination, and meeting place for the Weekend Bag Program.
The Hardyston Middle School administration and school board will host the upcoming Macaroni Kid Charity Event Carnival, Sat., Sept 28, from 9 a.m. until noon, at the Hardyston Middle School. Isobel’s mother, Dawn, said the school also waived the normal fees, for which they are very grateful.
“People always want something to be done in the world, but really what ends up happening is change begins with one person," Hardyston Township School District Chief School Administrator Michael Ryder said. “This is an awesome example of how one person makes a difference. You don’t wait around for somebody else to do it. You do it. This young lady is the example that should inspire us.”
The carnival is free to the public with games, raffles, arts and crafts, and photo booth. Attendees may also bring non-perishable items to donate to the Weekend Bag Program. A list of needed supplies may be found on: https://www.weekendbagprogram.com/donate, along with their Paypal account on the home page.
Dawn said publisher Danielle Barris, of Macaroni Kid Magazine, is offering all Weekend Bag sponsors, of $250 or more, a table at the carnival to display their services and hand out flyers. Additionally, she said, $250 sponsors, or more, will receive a link to advertise on the Macaroni Kid, for an equal amount of the sponsored amount. Barris has an audience of over 5,000 families in Sussex County.
In order to be a Weekend Bag Program sponsor, Dawn advised to: click on the Macaroni Kid site, fill out a form, and make a donation on-line, which goes 100 percent directly to the Weekend Bag Paypal account.: https://sussexnj.macaronikid.com/articles/5d66700d278d8625afda8686/macaroni
As to what happens to the program after Isobel, a senior at Newton High School, goes to college, Isobel shared her plans with the Ogdensburg Council on May 13. She said her siblings are already preparing to take her place, as her two little sisters help fill bags each weekend for the schools. Furthermore, she said, they have plans to create the Weekend Bag school club program, so schools can become self-sustaining.
Currently, the Weekend Bag Program is available in six different schools: Green Hills School, Merriam Avenue Elementary School, Hamburg School, Ogdensburg School, Hardyston Elementary School, and Hardyston Middle School.
“You don’t wait around for somebody else to do it. You do it. This young lady is the example that should inspire us.”
Hardyston Township School District Chief School Administrator