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Revere Power Pack helping to keep hungry students fed

Posted: January 31, 2018

by John Benson


Under the guidance of Jennifer “Jill” O’Hara, a program to help Revere families struggling to put food on their tables has evolved.


O’Hara knew about a program at Nordonia Schools where she taught for 35 years, and she came up with the idea of the Revere Power Pack. This fall the group began providing needy students at Hillcrest Elementary School with food (mac and cheese, sunflower butter, jelly, muffins, snacks, cereal, oatmeal and juice boxes) for the weekend.  


A 1972 Revere grad, O’Hara approached Revere Superintendent Matt Montgomery last winter. “He said a lot of people have the perception that the district doesn’t have anybody who could need assistance, but that’s not true.”


At that point, the Revere Power Pack Program started in earnest. By June it received 501(c)(3) status. The nonprofit then began creating awareness and soliciting donations at area events, such as Richfield’s Community Days. Both Bath-Richfield Kiwanis and the Revere Schools Foundation provided generous donations, and local businesses held food drives.  


O’Hara said that beginning in September the Revere Power Pack Program targeted Hillcrest Elementary children who were currently signed up for the free and reduced-cost lunch program.   


“Their parents got a letter saying that they qualified for free or reduced lunches, so we know that probably having enough money for food is an issue,” O’Hara said. “So therefore, if they would like, we could help their child through the weekend. If they opted in, that meant the child would get a bag of food for the weekend to take home.”


The Revere Power Pack Program works by O’Hara purchasing bulk food, which along with donated items, is packed every Thursday into nondescript bags by Revere High School National Honor Society students earning community service hours.


Roughly 15 bags per week are handed out to Hillcrest students via a number system. O’Hara said she isn’t provided a list of names.


“That’s all very confidential and very incognito,” O’Hara said. “Soon we’re going to send letters out to Bath Elementary students. We’re anticipating our numbers will at least double in February.”


Also taking place next month is Revere Power Pack Program’s “Dancing with the Stars” fundraiser Feb. 9 at the Akron-Fairlawn Hilton. Currently this is the only fundraiser planned for the program.


“We have eight couples who are going to be dancing for monetary votes,” O’Hara said. “And we’re going to have an auction. It’s a sit-down dinner. The winner will be whoever brings in the most money.”


After the competition, the dance floor will be open to all attending. O’Hara said she’s been amazed at the positive response among community members and the families receiving the assistance.  


Serving on the board with O’Hara as president and treasurer, are Vitna Bednar, vice president; Renee Zumpano, secretary; Seth Jentner; Julie Gulley (Hillcrest principal); Gretchen March; Jason Milczewski (advisor to the Revere National Honor Society; and Montgomery.


“So far, I have to tell you the community has been so supportive,” O’Hara said. “I have not been seeking assistance. People have been hearing about us and coming to us. And the people who are receiving food are so grateful.


“The very first week I got a note back in one of the bags that said, ‘Thank you, God bless.’ I thought that was really sweet.”

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