While teachers worry about nourishing a young student's mind, the task can become difficult when they must worry if the children they teach are properly fed over the weekend. That's why Epsilon Sigma Alpha, Zeta Nu No. 5520, is spending their Thursday evening packing backpacks full of food for their Packs for Hunger program.

"Someone came to us and said they had teachers saying their kids were going home for the weekend hungry," said Carol Worley, Zeta Nu member and program chairwoman. "At first we said we would do it every other week, but someone said we should do it every week. And that's where we started."

When the women began the program in March of this year, the group distributed 165 backpacks before the school year ended. Now they plan on packing 140 book bags a month.

"We started out with no money, no backpacks and no food. But look what we've made it and (how it's) grown," Worley said.

Rows of noodles, crackers and soups betray the fact that this is Worley's dining room, but she still has a number of guests lined up around the table waiting to pack the backpacks with a weekend's worth of food.

"We look like a grocery store in here," said Sharon Snell, club president.

The group works their way around the table in Worley's home with all the items layed out on the table before packing away almost 40 book bags in almost 15 minutes. The group says the first time, they took almost three hours to finish the job.

Just as the number of bags

they prepare has grown, so has their support from the community. The group had four drop off points earlier this year; now they have 14 spread throughout the city.

"It has just been phenomenal," Worley said. "God has provided for our needs."

The group plans on having a donation drive from 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 21-22 at Walmart and another at Albertson's the following weekend.

Anyone wanting more information is encouraged to call Worley at (575) 361-2834.

The group prepares the book bags and then drops them off at schools, allowing the administration to determine which children need the food. The group says they give out the food in backpacks to be discreet.

"Kids can be cruel. The last thing we want the kids to be is embarrassed. We just want them to eat," Snell said.

While the group says they feel blessed to be helping out and don't need any acknowledgement, the do hope to see more donations so they can continue to keep their Pack for Hunger program going.

All they need is to know they are fighting hunger and putting smiles on children's faces and food in their stomachs.

"When we were picking up the bags from the school one day, a little girl came up and said, 'Thank you for making me feel like a princess this weekend and letting me eat,'" Snell said.

Comments like that (and continuing donations) are all these women need.

Donations sites:Trinity Hotel, Pecos River Antique Mall, Tate Branch Autoplex, Jay's Automotive, Sew What, Carlsbad Chevrolet, Dollar General on South Canal and Pierce streets, and Bealls, Sears, Cloud Nine and Extreme Audio at the Mall.