All Hands on Deck: ‘Filling In The Blanks’ Wraps Up a Successful Inaugural Summer

As director of character education for St. Luke’s School, Kate Parker-Burgard coordinates community service and leadership opportunities for the student body. About one year ago, one St. Luke’s parent—New Canaan’s Tina Kramer—began sharing with Parker-Burgard what she and fellow town resident Shawnee Knight had been doing with the national Blessings in a Backpack program: The pair had operated the model to purchase and deliver food to 100 kids through a nonprofit that St. Luke’s already works with, Stamford’s Domus—kids on free or reduced lunch at a school—with an eye on expanding the model (through a new organization now in full effect, Filling in the Blanks) to operate through the summer.

New Canaan Women Launch, Expand Weekend Food Program for Kids

New Canaan’s Shawnee Knight and Tina Kramer had been packing food for needy Stamford kids for some six months before they had a chance to meet, in person, the children and teens they’d been helping. The moment came during a special Christmas delivery. Knight and Kramer the summer prior had developed their model of giving under the national Blessings in a Backpack program. At Christmas, the pair arranged to deliver, themselves, special holiday backpacks for the 100 kids they served at Stamford’s Domus—kids on free or reduced lunch at a school that serves some of the city’s most at-risk youth. In those backpacks—themselves new and donated—the kids found not just food but also socks, ear buds, candy, nail polish and shampoo for the girls, Skittles, shampoo and conditioner, pancake mix and syrup.