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Buc Bags program gets resurrected

By Staff | Dec 17, 2017

Jeremy Coxworth recruited his ninth grade confirmation class to do the first pack of Buc Bags while his family assisted in packing the second pack last Thursday. He had additional help from Blue Earth Area staff and School Board members. Left to right are Dar Holmseth from BEA Community Ed, Blue Earth Area Superintendent Evan Gough and School Board members Coxworth and Amber Patten.

Sometimes you just have to step forward and do what you think needs to be done.

That is exactly what the Jeremy and Tara Coxworth family thought a couple of weeks ago.

It happened at the Blue Earth Area School Superintendent ‘State of the District’ update on Tuesday, Nov. 28.

Jeremy Coxworth, a BEA School Board member, was at the public meeting with his daughter, Gabby.

“Sue Ellingsen was also there,” Coxworth recalls. “And she said that the Buc Bags program had not been operating most of the school year, and she thought that was a terrible shame. I looked over at my daughter and Gabby looked back at me with puppy dog eyes.”

Packing the Buc Bags this past week included, left to right, Tara Coxworth, Amber Patten and Jeremy Coxworth. The Coxworth family decided to jump in and run the program when they heard it had ceased earlier this school year.

Coxworth told his daughter that they would have to check with her mother first, however he also told her “but we are so doing this.”

The whole Coxworth family agreed it needed to be done and jumped right in pretty much head first, they say.

“The problem was, we didn’t know anything about it and we didn’t know what we were doing,” Coxworth says. “But we figured it out fast.”

Fast is right. The meeting was on a Tuesday night and by Friday morning they were delivering 152 Buc Bags to the school.

“I was in Mankato the next day and picked up the food items,” Tara Coxworth says.

“And Wednesday night I had my ninth grade confirmation class at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church help with the bagging,” Jeremy Coxworth quickly adds.

They have been doing the bagging each week since then.

“We are doing it now at our business (Coxworth Water Conditioning) on Main Street,” Tara Coxworth says. “But we are trying to find a permanent location to house the supplies and to do the bagging.”

Buc Bags was started by Dan Duden five years ago. It was a project organized under the auspices of St. Paul Lutheran Church and Duden was the youth director at the time. He has continued to be the administrator of the program since the beginning.

“But my health issues won’t allow that to happen any more,” Duden says. “But I am helping Jeremy and Tara with their taking it over as much as I can.”

Duden was at their place of business last Wednesday afternoon going over the things that need to be done. That includes soliciting donations and lining up groups to do the packing.

“There are so many people willing to help pack,” Duden says. “From Lions and Kiwanis, to 4-H, church groups, UHD staff and many more.”

Lining up packers was never a problem Duden says, but finding the money was the hard part.

“Many people and groups and churches stepped up to help financially, and I hope they will continue to do so, now that it is running again,” Duden says.

Tara Coxworth says anyone interested in helping pack or in making a donation can contact her on her cell phone at (507) 236-5336. They can also drop off financial donations at their store, or mail them to Buc Bags, PO Box 131, Blue Earth, MN 56013. There also is an email for them at bucbags@gmail.

“And if someone has an idea of a location where we can store supplies and do the packing, please give me a call,” she says. She added that they plan on doing some local shopping for supplies as much as they can.

The Buc Bags program provides items in a zip-lock bag that will furnish food to a child over a weekend. It is available to all children in elementary school who are on the free and reduced lunch program.

“Parents can call Melissa McGuire at the school to sign up their child,” Tara Coxworth says. “It is all done anonymously; we don’t know what kids are getting the bags, just the teachers do.”

So, thanks to a comment from Sue Ellingsen at a public meeting and the willingness of the Coxworth family to jump in and help, the Buc Bags program is back in operation.

“When I heard the program was not operating, I immediately said yes, we need to do something,” Tara Coxworth says. “I heard once that one in six kids in America go hungry every day. We want to stop that fact from being true here.”