UNION CITY — Thousands of donations were collected for the Union City Backpack Program at Saturday’s Cookies with Santa in Whoville.

The program provides food for students to bring home in their backpacks when they are in need. 

“The overwhelming support we’ve received is such a blessing,” said Melissa Tomcho, principal at Union City Area Middle/High School and organizer of the backpack program.

Tomcho added she was very thankful for the food donations that help to support the program, which is dependent on donations and grant money.

“We’re always thankful for the support that helps to sustain this program,” she said. “It’s very sad that every year there seem to be more students in need.”

The program is open to students in the Union City School District whose family needs help providing food. 

“The program is completely anonymous and very discreet,” Tomcho added.

Students in the program receive backpacks with their name on the inside. When students are in need of food, they are instructed to leave their backpacks in the school’s office. 

“If I notice a student’s backpack, I will call them down discreetly and they can select items to fill the backpack,” Tomcho said. “It’s very individualized, so that students can select what they would like.”

She added that the Union City’s local ministerium provides bread products each week for the program. 

“The students are just as thankful as we are,” Tomcho said. “The students don’t feel entitled to this; they are always very appreciative and grateful.”

Tomcho said the program has been a part of the school district for nine years and interested families can contact the school about becoming a part of the Union City Backpack Program. 

“We’re very excited to receive the donations from Cookies with Santa,” Tomcho said. “The donations will help so many students and families.” 


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