Blessings in a Backpack-Lake Orion receives Community Impact Award grant from GM

Blessings in a Backpack-Lake Orion receives Community Impact Award grant from GM

Three area General Motors plants, including Orion Assembly, awarded $100,000 to five area nonprofits as part of GM’s Community Impact Grants program. Blessings in a Backpack – Lake Orion was one of the recipients. Area officials, nonprofits and General Motors executives posed with the check following the presentation ceremony. Photo provided by GM Orion Assembly communications department.


General Motors donates $100K to five area nonprofits


By Jim Newell
Review Editor
ORION TWP. — General Motors donated $100,000 to five area nonprofits on Thursday, with Blessings in a Backpack – Lake Orion receiving a share of the grants.

The grants were provided through GM’s Community Impact Grants program, which was created in 2010 to allow local GM leaders and employees to direct funding toward nonprofit organizations addressing local issues in their communities.

The presentation was at the Orion Assembly plant with the five nonprofits receiving the grants from General Motors Orion Assembly, Pontiac Pre-Production Operations and Pontiac Stamping.

Birgit McQuiston, president of the Lake Orion school board, has been a volunteer with Blessings in a Backpack-Lake Orion for years and accepted the grant on behalf of the group.

“We are so grateful to receive this grant from GM. This is going to enable us to continue the work that we do, providing weekend food for children who are at risk, who otherwise might be hungry in Lake Orion,” McQuiston said. “It’s especially significant – all money that we receive or fundraise is significant – but it’s been a little bit hard to fundraise since COVID. And so, this is more important to us than ever. We are so grateful.”

Blessings in a Backpack-Lake Orion distributed about 1,600 backpacks with food each month this school year to school children who may be at risk for food insecurity.

“This year our numbers were a little higher, so the need is greater. We were on average about 400 packs on a weekend,” McQuiston said.

There are currently around 1,500 school-age children in the Lake Orion community on the free/reduced lunch program, according to the Blessings in a Backpack Lake Orion website.

“As part of our mission at GM, we recognize our company’s responsibility to make a positive social impact” said Jim Quick, Orion Assembly executive director. “We’re proud to support these nonprofit organizations that strengthen the communities where we live and work.”

Since 2019, GM has granted more than $13 million to nonprofits in its facility communities, and $460,000 to Lake Orion and Pontiac, through the Community Impact Grants program.

Other recipients included:
The Baldwin Center’s After School program, which provides academic enrichment activities for youth grades k-12 in Pontiac at little or no charge to families.
The International Technology Academy Initiatives Foundation program includes two Young Engineers Clubs (elementary and secondary) and two Gaming & Artificial Intelligence Clubs.
The Center for Success Network’s program provides structured, literacy focused out-of-school learning programs for elementary-aged students in Pontiac.
Reroot Pontiac installed a two-acre community garden using sustainable gardening methods. This year produce will be available for residents.

Orion Township Supervisor Chris Barnett said he’s pleased to see GM’s renewed commitment to local communities.

“Recently, Maddie Keller, who is the new communications director at GM Orion, asked if there were nonprofits that needed assistance. So here we are. It’s amazing. Twenty-thousand dollars is coming to our Blessings in a Backpack,” Barnett said. “I think this is just the start of our renewed relationship with GM, and we’re happy about it.

“We are thrilled at what’s happening here. The largest investment in GM’s history is happening in Orion, which is amazing. But even more than that, very recently they have started getting really involved in our community. Now they really want to be engaged with the community, which we are thrilled about,” Barnett said.

Blessings in a Backpack is a national organization that is currently in 42 states including Michigan. Blessings in a Backpack-Lake Orion is a committee of parents, local business owners, community members and educators operating in partnership with the national Blessings in a Backpack organization, and Meijer to provide at-risk students with a backpack containing six nutritious meals to feed them over the weekend.

To donate to Blessings in a Backpack Lake Orion, or for more information on the program, visit Anyone who would like to volunteer can go to the Blessing in a Backpack – Lake Orion Facebook page and sign up through a SignUpGenius form.

“We just finished for this school year, so volunteers can look for us again in the fall. We should be posting that again in October,” McQuiston said. “We’d love to have them.”

Blessings in a Backpack – Lake Orion usually hosts a trivia night each winter, the group’s largest fundraiser of the year. However, due to the pandemic, that event had been put on hold.

“We will also be back in January with trivia night, which we’ve had to put on hold for a while. We’re looking to come back bigger and better with that next year,” McQuiston said. “I like to tell people that it’s Blessings in a Backpack, we’re blessing kids with food but when you volunteer you get so blessed in return by helping. It’s so gratifying.”

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