NEWS RELEASES

10 Feb 2011

Toronto’s youth can now join Canadian actor Austin MacDonald in the fight against hunger in support of Blessings in a Backpack

495-BlessingInABackpackTORONTO-All across Canada, too many children begin their school week on an empty stomach, w hich affects learning, health and behaviour. Canadian actor Austin MacDonald raises gently-used backpacks for Blessings in a Backpack, ensuring that less fortunate children have the benefit of proper nutrition. As a principal actor in HBO Canada’s Living in Your Car and Family Channel’s Debra, the shows generously donate backpacks in support of the charity.

Blessings in a Backpack is a unique program designed to support schoolchildren who do not have enough to eat on weekends. Implemented successfully in Toronto, Sault Ste. Marie, Cobourg and Vancouver, Blessings in a Backpack helps families who struggle with hunger or who are ‘food insecure’. While they rely on food banks and other resources during the week, many cannot satisfy weekend needs.

$100 feeds a child in the program for an entire school year. Following a donation, a school is chosen and a local grocer partners with the program to provide food for meals in the backpacks. Every Friday, students receive their backpacks with food that require little to no preparation. They return with their backpacks on Monday ready to learn.

Now, Canada’s youth can join Austin in the fight against hunger, by visiting the official Blessings in a Backpack website (www.blessingsinabackpack.ca). It provides ideas on how the community can get involved, by donating funds or holding a backpack drive with the simple click of a mouse.

As an ambitious young actor and community activist, Austin MacDonald uses his public recognition to raise awareness for Blessings in a Backpack, reaching audiences who identify with his beloved characters. He was recently casted as “Auzzie” in the new Family Channel series Debra, currently filming with Cookie Jar Productions. He has also had principal roles on the television series Living in Your Car and Doodlebops. Other credits to his name include The Ron James Show, The Rick Mercer Report, Little Mosque on the Prairie and Mudpit.

Austin’s feature credits include Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer and the Roxy Hunter series of movies. Most recently, Austin has worked with Dennis Lee on a project called Jesus Henry Christ, alongside Michael Sheen and Toni Collette.

According to a study by the Daily Bread Food Bank, children under the age of 18 represent approximately 40.7% of food bank clients in Canada and 50% of recipients are families with children. Additionally, the Toronto Foundation for Student Success has reported that 1 of 3 children in Toronto live in poverty and a recent study showed that nearly half of all Toronto schoolchildren go to school hungry.

Better test scores, improved reading skills, positive behaviour, improved health and increased attendance have all been attributed to the success of this program.


Quotes

“I grew up in a warm close family environment in a pleasant neighbourhood.”

-Austin Macdonald, Blessings in a Backpack

“I had a warm bed and food on the table every night. Through my experience as an actor and shooting in various cities and towns, I came to realize that not everyone had what I had and I felt I need to do something to help.”

-Austin Macdonald, Blessings in a Backpack


Related Information

Available for Interviews: Austin Macdonald

For more information or to donate, please visit: www.blessingsinabackpack.ca

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