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ONP Backpack Program coordinator passes the baton

Our Neighbors’ Place Board President Janet Wilson presents long-time backpack program coordinator Darcy Boock with a cake to commemorate her service to the program. Photo courtesy of Shelly Smith

After seven years of leading the Our Neighbors' Place Backpack Program, Darcy Boock will retire as the backpack program coordinator at the conclusion of this school year.

"Darcy masterfully led our backpack program during a period of dynamic change in our community," said ONP Executive Director Jay Matchett. "On behalf of the board, I thank her for her years of service to ONP.

"Darcy is leaving behind a program built like Swiss watch — a well-oiled machine with just a fantastic group of dedicated volunteers who have given their time and talent to the program year after year.

"We are incredibly grateful for her service and the great team she put together. We are very sad to be losing her, but spending time with grandchildren is important and we wish her all the best."

At the program's annual volunteer luncheon Thursday, May 11, Boock received a "golden backpack" from ONP as a token of thanks for her "passion and dedication to the children of our community." Boock will continue to provide advice and counsel to ONP as the backpack program transitions to new leadership. Current volunteers Rissa Woichek and Nicole Thompson have agreed to take the reins and serve as co-acting volunteer coordinators, leading the program for the next school year.

Beginning out of a closet at Ezekiel Lutheran Church in 2010, the backpack program has grown and matured into a fixture of community life, delivering a record-breaking 68 backpacks a week recently, enrolling 84 schoolchildren from every school in the River Falls School District, including St. Bridget's. Last year, the program delivered 11,399 pounds of food to hungry children and their families. Having just added the River Falls High School to the program for the first time this past year, the demand for the backpacks has never been greater.

For those interested in learning more about the backpack program or ONP in general, Our Neighbors' Place is inviting the community to Our Neighbors' Day, an open house, yard sale and free meal 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, May 19. There will be tours of the Day Center and Clothing Closet, a yard sale with free will donation, and free meal from 4- 6 p.m. Rain date is 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, June 2.

For more information, visit or contact Matchett at or 715-821-9517.