Backpack project kicks off 'Sponsor a Child' campaign at MMI Door

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Sep. 19—SIDMAN — Ethan Kabler, operations director at MMI Door, said one of the company's core values is investing in people.

That's why the business has committed to sponsor another five area children through the Cambria County Backpack Project.

"I know we're going to commit to more sponsorships," he said. "We're not stopping."

Representatives from the project and members of the nonprofit's board of directors presented a yard sign and certificate to Kabler and the employees of MMI in recognition of their support on Monday at a special kick-off event for the "Sponsor a Child" campaign.

"MMI Doors has been a huge supporter of the backpack project," CCBP Director Kristen Villarrial said.

This is the second year the Sidman company has participated in the campaign and is now up to 10 children sponsored through the program.

Employees have also helped pack bags for the organization and MMI frequently shares information about the Cambria County Backpack Project on its social media accounts.

Kabler said addressing childhood hunger is important to the business, as is community involvement.

Local businesses can feed one child every weekend during the school year for $200 through the "Sponsor a Child" campaign.

CCBP takes those funds and creates a backpack full of nutritional food that's given out to youth to feed them throughout the days they're not in class.

Abby Gerlach, backpack project coordinator, said the program covers every school district in Cambria County, with the exception of two that have a similar initiative in place.

Three of those schools — Northern Cambria, Penn Cambria and Portage Area — were just added.

Gerlach said this year organizers expect to feed roughly 500 students throughout the county with those additions.

Having business partners, such as MMI, makes that possible, especially with the recent increase in grocery costs.

"It helps a lot," Gerlach said.

Last year, the Backpack project distributed more than 57,000 meals throughout 38 weekends to nearly 400 children.

One in five children in Cambria County are food insecure and 16% of middle school-aged children in the area admit to working they'll run out of food before their family gets money to buy more, according to backpack project information.

For more information on the campaign, contact Villarrial at ccbpdirector@thelearninglamp.org or 814-262-0732, ext. 247.

Villarrial said she hopes businesses will follow MMI Door's lead to sponsor local children.