MONTPELIER — Next week, just in time for Thanksgiving, 27 Montpelier families will receive a gift bag of canned goods and snacks, courtesy of the Montpelier Backpack Program.

Monday, Backpack Program volunteers came together to fill the bags, which included canned soups, fruit and vegetables, Ramen noodles, oatmeal and a variety of snacks, such as crackers and multi-grain bars. The bags will then be delivered next week in two batches by volunteers from St. Paul’s United Methodist Church and the Montpelier Church of Christ.

This is the third year for the Montpelier Backpack Program, a ministry of the House of Prayer Church, located at 115 E. Empire St., said volunteer program coordinator Joy Richmond.

Richmond was assisted Monday by her children Bryce, Briann and Brea, Montpelier Rotary Club members Zeb Lillard and Jim Engels, House of Prayer Pastor Ben Harris and Terra Peggs, House of Prayer family ministry director and board member of the Hope Center, where the bags were filled and staged for delivery.

The Hope Center, located across the street from House of Prayer at 223 W. Washington St., houses several of the church’s community ministries, including the City Life Center, and also includes community office space in the same building that’s used by the Williams County Job & Family Services and other employment and job training assistance programs.

The backpack program is a partnership between the House of Prayer, its Helping Hands food pantry and Montpelier Exempted Village Schools, which identifies the families in need.

Richmond said the Helping Hands food pantry provides about half the funding and foodstuffs for the backpack program, while sponsorship funding, like that from the Montpelier Rotary Club, provides the other half. She said she hopes to expand the program.

“Right now, we’re serving 27 families twice a month. But we’re looking to possibly bump that up to 30 families soon,” Richmond said.

Lillard and Engels on Monday used the opportunity to present a check for $7,500 to Pastor Harris on behalf of the Montpelier Rotary, with the funds to be used not just for the backpack program but any way the church could use the funds for its programs that benefit the community, Lillard said.

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