Parkway student fights to wipeout hunger with charity
A backpack carries more than school supplies.
For Michael Farris, a backpack carries his heart, one that’s full of giving and ensuring that no child goes hungry through the weekend. The Parkway High School senior chose to help the Northwest Louisiana Food Bank’s backpack program for his senior project through the United Way of Northwest Louisiana this semester.
The goal of the backpack program is to provide hungry children with a backpack of food to take home over the weekend and holidays.
Farris heard about the backpack program through his project mentor Erin Pyles, director of public relations and marketing for the United Way of Northwest Louisiana.
According to the Food Bank’s website, a bag is sent home weekly and includes kid friendly food items, including granola bars and fruit juice.
“The bag is huge and I was astounded to see just how much food can go inside it,” Farris said. “I fell in love with the program right then and there.”
The first thing Farris noticed was the lack of information about the program in the community.
“When I first started doing this project, a good majority of them had never heard of it,” he said. “I had never even heard of the backpack program or knew that it even existed.”
He took his new information back to Parkway High School to get the message out there. While raising awareness, Farris said he saw a personal change as well.
“I was your average new kid,” Farris said, explaining how he moved to Bossier six months ago. “I barely knew anyone and the people I did know were the ones I worked with.”
By doing the project, Farris said it has helped him come out of his shell.
“I had to be more social with people and really get out there to tell people about the program,” he said. “I was nervous because I didn't know how to present this to the school. It was a challenge, but it has all been worth it.”
Farris said his classmates were more than willing to help in any way they could. They even gave him a new nickname – “the backpack guy.”
“Everyone knows about it and wanted to be involved,” he said.
His main goal is to raise money to help fund the program. By donating $1, Farris said the public can help give a child a bag full of food for the weekend.
Without enough food, students often return with an empty stomach, lack in energy and struggle to keep concentration in the classroom. However, Farris hopes to change that through more community awareness.
“I feel like this is something that should be known about and not stay underground,” he said. “I knew people were struggling and having a hard time, but I didn't know how bad and how many. This project made me realize that I can really make a difference in these people's lives.”
Those interested in working with or donating to Michael’s cause and furthering the efforts of the backpack program in Northwest Louisiana can contact the United Way at 318-677-2504, online at www.unitedwaynwla.org, or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/unitedwaynwla.
Farris stressed that every donation, big or small, can provide support for a child in the community.
“We need more people to step up and help make a difference,” Farris said. “One person can make a difference. I'm an example of that.”