Backpack board member Jane Ogden from Cumberland Presbyterian comes ready for her weekly deliveries.

The Noon Optimist Club of Marshall met online Wednesday, Sept. 9 with President Le Ila Dixon noting that it is the second week in National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. “Parents and caregivers can help prevent obesity and support healthy growth by encouraging children to get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day,” she says, noting that “regular physical activity can have immediate health benefits like better sleep, better academic achievement, and reduced feelings of anxiety and stress.”

Continuing her focus on the Optimist Creed, Le Ila shares the story of a woman in New York who is a “good finder.” She habitually watches as she goes about her day, looking for ordinary people doing, what is to her, the “right” thing. She gives them a card on which is written: “I saw you./You did a nice thing./It was appreciated./Your decision/to share a kindness/will inspire others/to do the same./THANK YOU!”

Some examples of her “good finding” include a man picking up trash as he walks along a city street; a city bus driver waiting for a mom pushing a stroller and running to catch the bus before it leaves the stop; and a man trading shopping carts with an older shopper because her cart has wobbly wheels.

Her granddaughter watches her grandmother give away the cards on several occasions. Finally, she asks if she, too, can find someone doing good and give them a card. “We, too,” Le Ila counsels our members, “can live out the Optimist Creed – expect only the best – and look for the good being done around us every day.”

Hooray! We have a volunteer to be vice president, replacing Eric Wilburn who has resigned. Optimist Julie Brock has consented. Thank you, Julie. Now we can install officers for the 2020-21 year which begins Oct. 1.

The club has voted to meet in-person as soon as we can arrange a meeting to install officers and/or honor September’s Young Texan and Texanne. MHS Senior Counselor Suzan Harrison has had surgery and has just returned to school. She is attempting to make the arrangements for the Young Texans while dealing with the constraints of the Covid-19 pandemic. José Tequila’s Restaurant on U.S. 59 has been recommended for our meeting. Both the Lions Club and Rotary Club are currently meeting there.

“Thank you, Josh Moore, for your email,” says Optimist Le Ila, “we look forwarding to welcoming you as a new member ASAP and are glad that you are back at work at AutoBody Express.”

Optimists Michele Fuller and Richard Magrill are in the process of procuring a new Optimist Club banner from Optimist International.

The previous one has been missing for about a decade. This one will have the complete club name on it.

Optimist Charles Dixon is busy getting The Triple M Backpack Program up and running for the new school year. Earlier he had to run interference to make sure that the gates are operating to give access to the parking lot at the current backpack storage facilities at MISD Early Graduation School (the former location of its Washington Early Childhood Center).

Optimists in 2010, when the program started, anticipated storage needs, purchasing a $1,400 portable building and giving it to MISD, but the response to the program was so great, that it was inadequate by the fall of 2010 and MISD provided a different storage area, used for many years.

Then, during the brief period South Marshall Elementary is unused, the backpack food is stored in its music room.

The food comes in on the big trucks from the East Texas Food Bank in Tyler. Then it has to be off-loaded across from Mission Marshall in the Meadowbrook Funeral Home parking lot. It is then brought to the building provided at the MISD Early Graduation School in pickups and stored there. That is where volunteers will pick up food this week for three elementary schools.

Only three schools have been able to identify their students who will benefit from the nutrition needs filled by the program. Our volunteers will deliver weekend meals to those three schools until we hear from the nurses at the other elementary school. We recognize that nurses are working overtime and on high alert about the virus and know that they will complete the list of students ASAP. Oh, yes! The “backpacks” this year will be shopping bags supplied by Walmart. The bringing back and forth of backpacks poses a Covid-19 health hazard, so under current circumstances, single-use shopping bags are providing a much-needed alternative.

Due to the virus, it was not possible to deliver meals back in March, April and May so the Triple M Backpack Board of Directors — Don Parrish, Kevin Neu, Steve Horton, Charles Dixon, Le Ila Dixon, Jane Ogden, Stan Winn, Shirley Winn, and Amy Martin — are looking forward to this resumption of the program.