In 2012, Melissa founded Shear Blessings in hopes of providing healthy weekend meals to students at Blackshear Elementary School in Houston, Texas. When Friday rolled around every week, Melissa and her team at Shear Blessings would sort and pack non-perishable foods, and perishable when possible, into 200 grocery bags, which would then be transferred into individualized backpacks for selected students to take home with them, through the help of the national charity “Blessings in a Backpack.” On Monday, the backpacks would be gratefully returned and the process would start all over again for the following weekend.
It all started when Melissa, along with other members of Holy Spirit Episcopal Church, participated on a prayer tour through Houston’s 3rd Ward back in 2011, which is one of the city’s most deprived districts. While on the tour, they discovered Blackshear. Because Blackshear is a community that struggles to have access to healthy and affordable food regularly, Melissa made it her own personal mission to provide children with nutritious weekend meals, while raising awareness of the situation to the surrounding community and the children involved. She successfully supported 200 children and their families each weekend in the year 2013 with the help of Walmart’s gracious $10,000 donation, while also raising $30,000 to establish financial support of the program, and she continues to strive towards maintaining a minimum $4,000 fundraising goal per year to provide for at least 50 students.
In addition, Melissa has provided endless care to the school’s staff and administration through teacher appreciation lunches, personally revitalized the school’s library, and is expanding her program to include household items in the backpacks with the aid of outside groups. Through her tremendous efforts and noteworthy dedication to the community, Melissa was able to create a contagious energy throughout Houston towards helping these children not go hungry while honoring all that the administration of Blackshear Elementary School does for their students. She is reluctant to abandon a school and a community that is so in need of all that she had to offer. Therefore, Melissa Peter is awarded the Daily Points of Light Award for all that she has accomplished in such a short amount of time.
Regardless of all the progress Melissa has made, she still worries about all the other students waiting to receive their backpacks as well. Anyone has the opportunity to enter into her story and volunteer in Blackshear. Every third Thursday during the school year from 7-8am, Holy Spirit opens its doors to anyone who would like to donate their time and pack backpacks. Whether it is at Blackshear Elementary or any other school, make an impact, donate your time, and stop childhood hunger! Visit http://www.blessingsinabackpack.org/MakeaDifference.aspx for more information on how to be like Melissa and how to make a difference in your own community. Additionally, for more ways to make your mark in the world, check out http://www.generationon.org/kids/make-your-mark/projects/hunger to stop world hunger!