School district, police and fire pack blessings for Mantua students during annual fundraiser

Funds raised from the event will go towards providing meals for kids in Mantua on the weekend.

Mantua Township teachers and the police and fire departments faced off in a friendly volleyball tournament to raise money for the Blessings in a Backpack Tournament.

Every year since 2013, the Mantua Township Education Association sponsors the tournament to raise funds to provide meals to children in need in the district.

“We can do that here during the week, but on the weekend, some kids may not have access to food,” said Kathy Cartwright, MTEA co-president. “So they get some sent home every Friday so they can use it over the weekend.”

According to Blessings in a Backpack’s website, it costs $100 per student for a 38-week school year to supply them with food over the weekend, and nearly 13 million kids in the country don’t have food over the weekend.

To date, the organization said it has mobilized support from 1,092 schools in 45 states to feed more than 87,000 children.

The MTEA said it hosts various fundraisers throughout the year for the organization, with the volleyball tournament being the largest.

“It’s nice to give back to the community while having fun at the same time,” said Fire Chief Brian Hauss. “The competition is one of the best parts of it, especially beating the cops as a firefighter, and going against all of the teachers. Everyone in the community comes together for one night.”

“Everyone knows that it’s benefiting the children and it feels good to help them out,” said School Resource Officer Jim Fellon, who helped get the police department involved in the fundraiser.

During the event, raffle tickets were sold for 50/50 prizes, gift baskets and certificates donated by local businesses to pull in more funds for the organization. It is not known how much the organization raised on April 11.

Hauss added the fire department supports the organization throughout the year by providing space for the teachers to gather and sort food for the students, and would collect goods during its Santa Run.

On occasion, he said people will sometimes donates funds to the department after they cleared an incident at their homes or cut down trees, and it gets deposited to an account that’s only used to make donations to community organizations such as Blessings in a Backapck and the Edelman Fund, which funds Rowan University’s Edelman Fossil Park in Mantua.

“We give back every day as firefighters,” said Hauss. “It feels better to give back so everyone knows that we’re participating in the town. It’s nice for the whole town and school to be all involved in one community.”

“It brings in a decent amount of money and brings everyone together,” said Fellon. “Everybody can come out, and the teachers, fire and police departments play. The children and their parents get to watch.”

J. Mason Tomlin Elementary School’s second team won the teachers’ tournament and the fire department beat the police department to claim the Golden Sneaker.