A total of $9,000 was raised for three area backpack food programs thanks to a group effort between the St. Clair Masons of Easter Lodge 575 and other organizations during the month of July.

Customers at local businesses, including BP gas station on Highway 30, Mobil gas station in St. Clair, Ranch House, Wagner’s Store, Great Cuts, R&R Ace Hardware, Andy’s Movie Rental, Health Mart, Dana’s Shaved Ice, Gibby’s, Blondie’s, Outside the Box, Highest Ground Coffee and Bright Beginnings day care, could purchase $1 or $5 backpack cards.

Farmers & Merchants Bank, McDonald’s and Klak Management, and the Missouri Impact Group also each donated $500, according to Masons Lodge member Mark Bay.

At the end of the fundraising campaign, $4,500 was collected and the St. Clair Masons matched the amount bringing the total to $9,000.

Backpack food programs in St. Clair, Lonedell and Richwoods each received $3,000.

“It went fantastic, especially being a first-time event,” Bay said. “It went really well. We were very happy with the results.

“You never know how things are going to go, but St. Clair has got a giving heart especially when it comes to kids,” he added. “We’re tickled to death with it.”

Bay noted business owners have expressed interest in participating in the fundraiser again next year and have come up with ideas on how to raise more money.

“It’s going to be pretty neat,” he said. “I think it’s something that we’ll continue to do year after year.”

St. Clair Program

St. Clair School District’s backpack food program is organized by Holy Trinity Lutheran Church members, which provides canned goods and nonperishable items to students who attend St. Clair Elementary, Edgar Murray Elementary and the Franklin County Cooperative on a weekly basis during the academic school year.

Church members and volunteers put together bags of food for children to take home. The list of children to receive food is created by school administrators.

Students who participate in the program are typically those who are on the free and reduced lunch list. This past school year, 167 bags of food were given to students per week.

Teachers collect the bags to be passed out to students every Friday.

To keep the Holy Trinity’s program running, it costs between $1,500-2,100 monthly. About $18,000 was spent on groceries last school year.

Grocery items include shelf milk, cereal, fruit cups, juice, chicken noodle soup, canned pasta, granola bars, pudding, cheese crackers and macaroni and cheese.

Holy Trinity Church member Lawrence Talleur said the fundraiser contribution will go a long way in providing bags of food for St. Clair students.

“The Masons Lodge of St. Clair is certainly an amazing group of dedicated individuals who have supported many charitable endeavors in our community over the numerous years that I have been here and during their existence in town,” he said.

Talleur added that members of his late wife’s family were a part of Eastern Star and the Masons lodges in St. Louis and his brother was a Mason and a Shriner.

“These and all of these individuals are friends and neighbors that quietly go about their lives making to help others’ lives better. Proud to know them,” he said.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the backpack program. It was started in May 2009 as a group effort between St. Clair School District teachers, administration and members of Holy Trinity.

Golf Tournament

The annual Backpack for Kids Food Program golf tournament fundraiser is set for Saturday, Sept. 14, at Meramec Lakes Golf Club. The golf tournament is hosted by Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and Gray Summit United Methodist Church members.

Teams of four are needed to participate in the golf tournament, in addition to items for the live and silent auctions. People also can donate to be a hole and/or a cart sponsor, contribute to attendance prizes or make a cash donation.

Last year, the tournament raised approximately $16,000, and proceeds were split evenly between Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and Gray Summit United Methodist Church backpack programs.

In addition to the golf tournament, funding for the backpack program comes from contributions, grants and other fundraisers.

For registration, donation forms and for more information, contact Carol Hill at 636-629-0164 or Linda Stettes at 314-795-9415. The deadline to sign up or to donate items for the auctions will be two weeks before the event.

The check-in time for the golf tournament is 7:30 a.m. and tee-off will be at 8 a.m. Meramec Lakes Golf Club is located at 321 Birdie Lane.

For those interested in helping out with the backpack program, contact Holy Trinity Lutheran Church at 636-629-3355.