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Mom makes sure students don't go hungry after school with 'Blessings in a backpack'

Melissa Palmertree saw that many of the students at Hartwood Elementary school needed a little extra help. Some of them did not know where their next meal was coming from after leaving school. Palmertree decided to do something to help them.
Credit: Marcella Robertson
Melissa Palmertree

STAFFORD, Va. — Melissa Palmertree spent years volunteering at Hartwood Elementary School. Her kids went there, and she quickly fell in love with the students. She also noticed a need many of the students had. 

Some of the kids solely relied on the meals they received at school. Many of the students would go home, especially on the weekends, not knowing where their next meal was coming from. Palmertree decided she wanted to do something to help out. 

She started a program at the school called 'Blessings in a Backpack.' It's a national program she brought to Hartwood. With the help of donors, she was quickly able to put together bags of food the students could take home on the weekend. Five years later, the program has grown large enough where she feeds 50 students a weekend. 

Scott Elchenko is the principal at Hartwood. He says Palmertree has been a huge blessing to the school. 

"Even though there are a few things that go into the bag, it means so much to the kids in terms of what they're taking home," said Elchenko. 

Palmertree says she wants to continue on with the program as long as there is a need.