Culver City Edition

Culver Studios donates to school backpack program

CULVER CITY — Hackman Capital CEO and President Michael Hackman got into the spirit of the season of giving by announcing a generous donation to the Culver City Backpacks for Kids Program at the Culver Studios’ recent community holiday party.

The gift will finance the purchase of two weeks’ worth of supplies for the program that helps ensure that needy Culver City students have sufficient food for the weekend.

“At this time of year, it is of utmost importance to make sure that no student goes without sustenance,” said Hackman, owner of the Culver Studios. “We are privileged to be in a position to be able to give back to those organizations in our community that do good work like the Culver City Backpacks for Kids Program. This program performs an outstanding service and hopefully this gift will help them extend their services.”

The Culver Studios’ generosity amazed Jamie Wallace, co-founder of the Culver City Backpacks for Kids Program.

“This timely gift is greatly appreciated and will help us further the needed bridge between home and school,” Wallace said. “We are currently serving approximately 200 families and unfortunately, the need for our services shows no signs of abating any time soon.”

Culver City Backpacks for Kids has grown rapidly since its start in 2013 at one elementary school where teachers noticed that some of their students came to school hungry on Mondays. Parent and school volunteers began putting together simple backpacks to provide students food for the weekends.

Three backpacks soon became 19 backpacks, and in December 2013 the program expanded to include all nine campuses in the Culver City Unified School District. Of the district’s 6,500 students, more than 45 percent are eligible for the free and reduced lunch program.

Supported by the Culver City Council PTA, Backpacks for Kids is run entirely by volunteers and receives no funding from the school district or state or federal sources. Food drives are held in December at all schools, and twice a year the program hosts a food and donation drive at a local supermarket.

The Culver City School District sends out an informational letter to every family in the district about the program. Families apply for the program at their schools, and staff and teachers identify students in need who have not requested to be included.

In those instances, a letter is sent home to the family to ask if they would like to participate in the program.

The staff sends the number of backpacks needed to the coordinators with no names or details attached. The numbers, which are compiled for each school to preserve anonymity, are given to the backpack coordinators who, working alongside middle school student volunteers, fill backpacks with non-perishable foods chosen for their calcium, vitamin, protein, whole grain and caloric values.

The full backpacks are picked up by parent volunteers who deliver them back to their schools. The backpacks are then discreetly distributed by school staff directly to the students each Friday.

The Culver Studios has long had highly successful partnerships with the Culver City Unified School District, its schools, and the Culver City Education Foundation, by financially supporting school programs, and hosting fundraising events for the groups and activities for students on the studio lot.