The Blessings in a Backpack program recently received a $1,000 contribution from a charitable basketball event in Newark Central School District.
Henry Kuperus, a physical education teacher at Kelley School, organized the event with the help of the Tip Off Club, the district’s basketball program boosters. He recently presented the check to local Blessings in a Backpack volunteers Tanya Hasseler and Jill Nittolo.
Hasseler and Nittolo said the $1,000 donation will provide 10 students with weekend food bags for a year.
Blessings in a Backpack provided 10,000 food bags to 240 eligible students at all five Newark schools and Roosevelt Children’s Center during the 2016-17 school year. This year, 270 students receive food bags on Fridays. Hasseler anticipates that 12,000 weekend food bags will be distributed to students in 2017-18.
Hasseler and Nittolo received the check after the Newark High School varsity basketball team’s afternoon practice at Kelley School.
The varsity, junior varsity, seventh- and eighth-grade teams competed against Midlakes teams in the charitable event at NHS. Newark won every game.
Kuperus, who serves as the varsity boys basketball coach, said Newark boys basketball alumni were invited to the event that ended with holiday party at Newark American Legion. Money was raised through admission, a concession stand and a 50/50 raffle.
Kuperus credited Shannon Clements, president of the Tip Off Club and mother of varsity center Taylor Clements; his parents, Henry and Darla Kuperus; and Bill VanDeMortel, father of varsity player Mason VanDeMortel, for their help in manning the concession stand throughout the day and helping him organize the event.
“I was really happy when we added up all that had been raised,” he said. “It’s not just about playing basketball, but helping and giving back to our community. Our basketball program has a lot of sponsors who donate to support our teams, and it’s important to give back”
“It’s really nice to see kids involved in helping other kids in their community,’’ Hasseler said.