Backpack Buddies plays a big role for Leeds students

Sheilah Vick started Backpack Buddies in Leeds and St. Clair County in 2013 when seeing the need at her granddaughter’s elementary school.

By William C. Singleton III | Special to the Leeds Tribune

Sheilah Vick’s ministry to feed hungry school children began in fall of 2013 with a lunch date with her granddaughter.

While eating with her then second-grader at Moody Elementary and chatting with another child at the table, Vick said she felt God impressed upon her to “stop what you’re doing and look around.”

Vick did and noticed “kids shoveling food in their mouths, eating everything on their plates and borrowing food from their classmates,” she said. Vick also noticed kids peering into trash cans at apples that were thrown away. “It felt like they were thinking, ‘I wish I could take this home with me,’” she said.

Vick left the school convinced that many students need more than just the food they receive at school. After praying for “God to show me what to do,” Vick consulted with two other organizations involved in feeding hungry school children then started a Backpack Buddies program in her area. Now entering its seventh year, the Backpack Buddies program that serves Leeds and St. Clair County is returning to several schools for the fall semester. Backpack Buddies is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing food to children when they’re not in school. The group’s target audience is children in the Leeds, St. Clair County and Pell City school systems.

Starting from a classroom at Moody Elementary, where it still makes its home base, the program last year prepared nearly 700 food bags for more than 35 schools and expects to increase the number of bags it distributes by 100 this upcoming year, Vick said.  Vick and her husband, Joe, have enlisted sponsors to help them in their quest to end hunger. Their sponsors operate under the Backpack Buddies program and agree to take on the responsibility of feeding a particular school.

“We have a lot of churches that are sponsors,” Vick said.

Vick’s own church, Leeds Worship Center, is a Backpack Buddies sponsor for Leeds High School, she said. Other sponsors will donate food to the schools through the Vicks who help organize the program at those schools. The Vicks are responsible for seven schools.

“We have people, whether families or businesses or other churches, who will feed into my and Joe’s schools.”

Read more in the September print edition of the Leeds Tribune. Find copies at Food Giant, Food Cost Plus, Leeds Jane Culbreth Library, Daylight Donuts and Raceway.


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