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 600 “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 twelfth 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 will be ready to go when the snow starts to fly.
“Our ‘Blizzard Bag’ program has been well received by both our clients and the community,” said Support Services Manager and Volunteer Coordinator Christine Parks. “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.”
To date the OCO has received phone calls from several area schools and other organizations that would like to participate in the “Blizzard Bag” project. “The eagerness of area youth to help us with this project is heartwarming. For the past 4 years we have had 2 students from J.C. Birdlebough High School in Phoenix, spend their summers collecting food donations for the blizzard bags, decorating these bags, and fill approximately 120 blizzard bags, quite an accomplishment for 2 high school seniors.”
Additionally, Girl Scout and Boy Scout Troops and many Oswego County elementary students are volunteering this year. Hastings-Mallory Elementary School in Central Square, under the direction of Jennifer Senf, will hold 2 special after school events for the students to decorate bags and make greeting cards and ornaments for each bag as well as collect donations of food for the bags. “Parents and teachers all volunteer their time to kick this event off and Principal Lawrence Wink arranges for buses to take the students home after this special event. A big thank you to all that help make this event possible,” said Parks.
OCO’s Blizzard Bag program is part of its participation in the 2017 Subaru Share the Love Event®. Subaru supports local Meals on Wheels programs that provide daily nutritious meals, nourishing companionship and critical safety checks to America’s homebound seniors. Through its Share the Love Event® Subaru will donate $250 for every new Subaru vehicle sold or leased from now through January 2, 2018 to four national charities designated by the purchaser or lessee. Hometown charities may also be selected for donation.
“Partnering with Subaru on the Share the Love® event is nice way for us to raise additional funds for our Home Delivered Meals program,” said OCO Nutrition Services Coordinator Bridget Dolbear. “We are happy to be able to be a part of it.”
OCO is currently accepting donations of food and paper bags for this year’s “Blizzard Bags”. Donation boxes can be found in the lobby of OCO’s main office, 239 Oneida St. in Fulton; OCO Nutrition Services’ kitchen site at 5871 Scenic Ave. in Mexico; and at any of OCO’s Dining and Activity Centers.
Food items most 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.
OCO’s “Blizzard Bags” program is truly a community endeavor. Organizations, businesses, families and individuals partner with OCO Nutrition Services to support the project. “With all of this help from our community partners, this will be an awesome year for our home delivered clients” added Parks.
For more information on donating or volunteering to assist with OCO’s “Blizzard Bag” project you may contact Christine Parks at 598-4712 ext. 1807 or visit www.oco.org.
OCO, Inc. is a private, non-profit agency that has been supporting communities throughout Oswego County since 1966.A member agency of the United Way of Greater Oswego County; OCO provides more than 50 vital services throughout 100 separate locations. For more information, visit www.oco.org.