Cocoa Packs Expanding in Hershey

Annie Bravacos, Reporter

Nearly three years later, they never thought the community would still need their help.

Cocoa Packs is the organization that Hershey never thought they would need, but is beyond grateful for its presence in the community. It was formed in November 2015 as a weekly food assistance service for students K-12. Made up of the most genuine, caring, and hard-working people you can find, Cocoa Packs is in full throttle for the months to come.

The space that they are working out of was recently expanded and rightfully so. With the new addition, the program will be able to store more food, pack more bags, and give aid to more students.

Christine Drexler, the president of Cocoa Packs, said, “We are so blessed to have this space we are so blessed to have the sponsors and support we have so the idea is to capitalize on the new space we have.” The expansion will allow the organization to have more space to work out of to help aid students and their family in the community.

Christine is known throughout the community for being one of the warmest and most heartfelt people you will meet.  

Drexler said, “I think the thing that doesn’t translate over is the love and care that is shown through this program and how we’ve created a family.” She went on to mention the bonds between the volunteers and the children that come through.

Another thing that is dealt with is confidentiality of students, and a solution to that is all the locations are secure and discreet.

Drexler said, “One thing I love about this is that there are still students when I ask them if they know where the pantry is at the highschool, they have no idea. So that means that we’re keeping the dignity of our recipients and who they are confidential.”

Although some students may feel ashamed or embarrassed by being a recipient, being one can also form close relationships between students. Some students come to receive aid and they’ll see classmate receiving as well. Knowing a person who is going through the same hardships as you are can form some of the strongest friendships and bonds that that student will ever make.

Not everything happens magically, though. With a large amount of Hershey’s mothers being stay-at-home moms, there’s a lot of idle hands itching to help out. Cocoa Packs got off to a great start back in November 2015, and that is partially due to the volunteers and donors they had secured before officially starting the program.

Enrollment is Cocoa Packs’ primary goal now. The program feels that there are still people out there that need help but are not receiving it.

The Cocoa Pack’s program has come a very far way since their start. They have reached out to more kids and families, received more and more help and support from the community, and they have grown as a group and program together and really made a great, joyful thing out of such sad and heartbreaking circumstances. Cocoa Pack’s is allowing each and every child they reach one less thing to worry about at the end of the day.