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OCO to Prepare ‘Blizzard Bags’

FULTON, NY – Even though it is only December and our weather has been pretty warm, members of Oswego County Opportunities’ Nutrition Services are planning for another winter season.

Students at the Fulton Community School display some of the 175 Blizzard Bags they prepared last year for OCO’s Home Delivered Meal program. Many businesses and community members are currently supporting the program and all are welcome to participate. Seated from left are: Frankie, Courtney, Savannah, Alexa, Brianna, Jacob, Molly and Dakota. Standing from left are: after school adviser Matt Williams, Jennie, Catie, Joshua Cassy, supervisor Deanna Plath, Gabby, resource coordinator Janice Scott and volunteer coordinator Christine Parks.
Students at the Fulton Community School display some of the 175 Blizzard Bags they prepared last year for OCO’s Home Delivered Meal program. Many businesses and community members are currently supporting the program and all are welcome to participate. Seated from left are: Frankie, Courtney, Savannah, Alexa, Brianna, Jacob, Molly and Dakota. Standing from left are: after school adviser Matt Williams, Jennie, Catie, Joshua Cassy, supervisor Deanna Plath, Gabby, resource coordinator Janice Scott and volunteer coordinator Christine Parks.

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, more than 700 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 10th year, OCO’s Nutrition Services is looking forward to partnering once again with volunteers and other community members to gather food items, decorate the bags, and prepare them to ensure that the Blizzard Bags will be ready to go when the snow starts to fly.

“The ‘Blizzard Bag’ program has been well received by both our clients and the community,” said Christine Parks, support services manager with OCO Nutrition Services. “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.”

“We have already received a generous donation of 200 filled blizzard bags to kick off our event, from nine Methodist churches in Oswego County,” said Parks. “Under the direction of Pastor Elise Skiles, they choose our Blizzard Bag project for their fall focus. Additionally, several Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops return every year to participant in this project as well as many of the students in our Oswego County elementary schools to decorate the bags and to make cards and ornaments for the Blizzard Bags. The students enjoy being a part of this community project and, as they have for the past six years, Bob’s Liquors and Discount Liquors are donating the bags that will be decorated and filled with food and snacks. With all of this help from our community partners, this will be an awesome year for our home delivered clients.”

Parks added that OCO is currently accepting donations of food and paper bags for this year’s bags.

Donation boxes can be found in the front lobby of OCO’s main office, 239 Oneida St. in Fulton, OCO’s Kitchen at 5871 Scenic Ave. in Mexico and at any of OCO’s six Dining and Activity Centers.

Food items we are in need of include:

–          Oatmeal packets

–          Ramen noodles/soup packets/mac and 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.

For more information on donating or volunteering to assist with OCO’s “Blizzard Bag” program, call Parks at 598-4712 ext. 1807.