YOUR HOMETOWN — Stanley: She’s Got Their Back
Stanley Woman Leads Group Helping Town’s Needy Children
Lora Buracker sorts bags she uses for Casey’s Backpack Kids, a volunteer organization she started to help children in Stanley who don’t have enough to eat. Each week, Buracker and other volunteers fill about 120 of the bags with food and hand them out to Stanley schoolchildren enrolled in the program. Photo by Jason Lenhart / DN-R.
Lora Buracker takes stock of food supplies in the group’s makeshift headquarters located in a vacant downtown building owned by Stanley Councilwoman Martha Graves. Photo by Jason Lenhart / DN-R.
Last year, at the urging of a friend, she decided to do something about it.
In January 2012, Buracker launched Casey’s Backpack Kids, a volunteer organization that works to provide a week’s worth of meals to Stanley Elementary School students in need.
The group was named for Stanley resident Casey Amos, 18, who died in a car crash in July 2009.
Buracker came into contact with him while volunteering at Page County High School, where Amos had graduated just a few months before his death.
Every Thursday, Buracker, her husband Greg, and other volunteers gather at a formerly vacant Main Street building right across from the Stanley town hall to fill backpacks.
Use of the structure, owned by Martha Graves, a Stanley councilwoman, was given at no charge.
Casey’s started with 133 children enrolled the first year. Buracker said she accepts applications from parents through the school at the beginning of each year, but there are exceptions.
“If [for example] a parent loses a job and finds themselves [in need],” in the middle of the year, Buracker said, she would expand the program to include those children.
Today, the group serves about 120 students.
After packing, volunteers deliver the backpacks to the elementary school for students to pick up.
Children do not have to be a part of a school lunch aid program to qualify.
When the group first started, Buracker said she spent a lot of time grocery shopping.
“I was shopping every week,” she said.
Now, as the organization has become more established, things have gotten a little easier. She now purchases cases in bulk from Walmart; donations for items such as peanut butter frequently come in from church groups.
“The community has been absolutely amazing,” Buracker said.
A McDonald’s in Luray also donates 100 bags of apples for the backpacks each week.
Buracker, who attended Stanley Elementary as a child, balances running Casey’s with working three days a week in a medical office in Luray. Other volunteers come mostly from church and alumni groups.
Although Buracker said she’s not hurting for volunteers, the group can always use more.
Anyone wishing to help may show up at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays for packing day. The building, marked with a Casey’s sign, is directly across from the Stanley town office at 278 E. Main St.
Once in a while, packing day will change based on school schedules. Updates are posted on the Casey’s Backpack Kids Facebook page.
Contact Kaitlin Mayhew at 574-6290 or firstname.lastname@example.org