Rotary recognizes program

WELLSBURG – The Brooke County Rotary Club recognized local school leaders for their part in providing backpacks filled with food to children in families of need.

And the group also contributed to the schools’ efforts with monetary donations supported by a grant through Rotary International.

Nadine Sweda, Jefferson Primary School principal, and Nicole Ennis, Hooverson Heights Primary School principal, attended a recent Rotary meeting at the Station Grille to accept checks and certificates of recognition.

Scott Donohew, Franklin Primary School principal, was unable to attend, so Marty Bartz, assistant superintendent of schools, accepted on his behalf.

Jerry Simpson, the club’s president, also thanked the school officials for their cooperation with the club’s Adopt a Family Christmas program.

Through the program, the club provides food and Christmas gifts to several local families in need, both through donations from local businesses and from their own pockets.

The principals and Bartz expressed appreciation to the club for its donation to their backpack food programs.

The programs also are supported by local churches, including St. Anthony Catholic Church at Jefferson Primary School, Hooverson Heights Church of Christ at Hooverson Heights Primary School and the clergy in the Wellsburg Area Ministerium at Franklin Primary School.

The churches and others donate food for the backpacks, which the children take home with them on weekends, when school breakfasts and lunches aren’t available to them. Because many children carry backpacks, the children receive help without attention being called to them.

The first backpack program in Brooke County was begun by members of Weirton First Church of the Nazarene for children at Colliers Primary School.

Ennis said 14 children at her school take the backpacks of food home with them, and Sweda said 10 children receive backpacks at her school.

Ennis said before coming to Hooverson Heights Primary School a few years ago, she “had no idea of the need.

“I have kids who look for them (the backpacks) each Friday and depend on them.”

“It’s hard to think there are little kids that don’t have food,” said Simpson.

He noted the club’s partnership with Sweda goes back several years, when members began visiting the school to read to the younger children.

“What you do for our community, words can’t express. You are always available whenever you are needed,” said Sweda.

(Scott can be contacted at