Each year, with the help of caring businesses, organizations and community members, OCO's Nutrition Services prepares and distributes hundreds of "Blizzard Bags" to home delivered clients throughout Oswego County.
The "Blizzard Bags" program provides OCO's clients with an emergency supply of food in the event that they are unable to receive their regular meal due to inclement weather conditions.
Each "Blizzard Bag", is individually prepared and labeled and contains an assortment of food items along with a cheery note to brighten the recipient's day and explain the purpose of the "Blizzard Bag". Last winter more than 500 "blizzard Bags" were delivered to OCO's home delivered meal clients with another 100 distributed to clients at OCO's dining and activity centers.
With the "Blizzard Bag" project entering its ninth year, OCO's Nutrition Services is looking forward to partnering with volunteers and other community members to gather food items, decorate food bags and put them all together to ensure that the program is ready for another winter.
"Our "Blizzard Bag" program has been well received by both our clients and the community," said Christine Parks, volunteer coordinator with OCO Nutrition Services. "Thanks to the generous donations we receive from local grocery stores, concerned community members, service groups and our own OCO employees, we are able to ensure that our clients will have a nutritious meal on hand in the event that winter weather prevents the home delivery of their meal or if they are unable to visit one of our dining and activity sites."
Parks said that the project has already received generous support from the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of Oswego County. "Many of the troops that helped us last year are returning to once again participant in the 'Blizzard Bag' project. Additionally, many of the students in our Oswego County elementary schools are decorating the bags, making cards and ornaments for the blizzard bags. The students enjoy being a part of this community project," added Parks.
This year two young adults in the 10th grade at John C Birdlebough High School in Phoenix have made the 'Blizzard Bag' project their personal community service project. Last year Nicole Hetko and her friend Jon George, decorated and collected donations to fill 42 blizzard bags. This year the two decided they wanted to make more bags than last year. To do so they began their project in the summer, writing letters to Wegmans,
Wal- Mart and Price Chopper stores asking for donations and obtained paper bags from the Discount Liquor Store in Fulton.
"These two young adults decorated and collected enough donations to fill 100 blizzard bags. When they presented the blizzard bags to me they said they enjoy doing this community project and have set a goal of surpassing 100 bags next year," said Parks.
Last year the Michael A Mauron Elementary School in Phoenix held a school-wide food drive and decorated and filled 200 blizzard bags and 25 pet bags. This year Langian Elementary School in Fulton is hosting a school-wide food drive for blizzard bags in the months of November and December. "With all this help from our community partners, this will be an awesome year for our home delivered clients," added Parks.
According to Parks OCO is currently accepting donations of food and paper bags for this year's blizzard bags. Donation boxes can be found in the front lobby of OCO's main office, 239 Oneida St. in Fulton or at OCO's Kitchen at 5871 Scenic Ave, in as well as at any one of OCO's 8 Dining and Activity Centers, beginning, Monday December 1st.
Food items they are in need of include:
- Oatmeal packets
- Ramen noodles/soup packets/mac & cheese cups
- Cereal bars
- Small packaged crackers
- Small packaged cookies
- Small juice bottles/juice boxes
- Hot Cocoa packets
- Tea Bags
- Hard candies
- Microwave dish or packets
- Fruit and pudding cups
- Small can soups
- Decorated bags
- Greeting card for a senior
OCO is also accepting donations of pet food so that they can offer "Pet Blizzard Bags" for their clients who have pets.
For more information on donating or volunteering to assist with OCO's "Blizzard Bag" program you may contact Christine Parks at 598-4712 ext. 1807