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School Kids

Backpack Program

How the Backpack Program Started

In 2013, a group of Trinity members, including a number of families with children at Keister Elementary School, formed “Light the Flame,” a House Church called primarily to address food insecurity for the most vulnerable Keister students and their families. The Backpack Program was born.


Members gathered weekly to put together bags of food to be sent home each weekend with a few dozen students. The program slowly grew as additional donations increased the number of bags provided each week. A neighborhood parent, Tamara Grant, learned about the program, and built a partnership with the PTO at Keister, increasing the support and capacity of the program. 


Tamara’s deep passion for the mission led to expanding the program beyond Keister. Today, every Harrisonburg City Public School has a Backpack program of some kind, providing nutritious food on weekends for many children throughout the city. 

School Kids
How the Backpack Program Helps

Today, Trinity continues our commitment to the Backpack program at both Keister and Bluestone Elementary schools. Between the two, we serve over 120 families each week. 

Fresh Fruit in Containers

The families served by these programs are our working poor neighbors. They are largely parents who work long hours at minimum wage, and spend most of their disposable income on housing, childcare, and healthcare. The food they receive helps them in a very real way make ends meet for them and their children. Teachers, counselors and school administrators refer children and families who exhibit clear need. Their reports make clear the difference the program makes for the children’s nutritional, psychological and educational health.

How You Can Donate:

You can support Trinity’s Backpack program by contributing online or by check to the church office. Online contributions to the Keister program can be made through this link ( and to the Bluestone program through this link ( You can send a check to the church office, 725 S. High Street, Harrisonburg, VA 22801. In the memo line, designate the Backpack program, along with the school you would like to support. Checks or donations designated for the Backpack program without a specific school named will be allocated to the program with greater need at that time. 100% of donations will be used to buy food for children and their families.

If you’re interested in becoming a part of Trinity’s Backpack Program, contact Dane Byers at 540. 820. 2132 or email at We are in particular need of volunteers who can lift heavy boxes of food, each Wednesday during the school year. Food is picked up from Hope Distributed and brought to the schools. If you’re willing and able to help, please contact Dane.


Backpack programs have been set up at every school in HCPS. To support another school’s student population directly, reach out to the fiscal sponsor for each school.


For Stone Spring, Smithland, and Spotswoood: give to Rise Harrisonburg (

For Waterman Elementary: give to Patchwork Pantry (

For Thomas Harrison Middle School and Skyline Middle School: give to the Harrisonburg-Rockingham ARC (

For Harrisonburg High School: give to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank (!/donation/checkout)

How You Can Volunteer:
Other City Schools With Backpack Programs
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