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ECHO: Helping Kids, One Backpack at a Time


For most students, the weekend can’t come fast enough after a long week in school. However, for many kids, two days without school can mean two days without food. Nanette Pinckney, CEO of the non-profit Economic Council Helping Others Inc., or ECHO, aims to change that – one backpack at a time.

The organization has provided food, resources, and education to kids, children, and families in San Juan County, for more than 54 years. One of their most important causes is the Backpack for Kids initiative, an emergency food assistance program designed specifically for children. Each Friday, backpacks are filled with food and given out to children at risk of going hungry over weekends and school breaks.

According to Nanette, one situation has stayed with her during her time at ECHO. A student and his younger sibling were at risk of being removed from their home and placed in child protective services. The child’s biggest worry was not having his backpack of food – that was how he was feeding himself and his sister.

“The backpack program means so much more than just giving a child a bag to hold their school supplies, it’s a way for the child not to feel embarrassed about receiving donations while still making sure that they eat.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Nanette and her team have stepped up their engagement in the community with those who are struggling due to loss of income and resources. Nanette notes ECHO works with over 25 partnering companies to help provide a multitude of programs and services, including utility, food, and emergency rental assistance to those in need. They have made a huge impact in the community and consistently empower San Juan County residents so that they may thrive.

ACU, a Division of SLFCU participates annually in collecting backpacks and raising funds for non-perishable food needed by the program, and this year was no different. From August 2 to September 11, donation containers were located at every teller station in our Farmington-area branches. Members came into our branches and gave generous donations that were then presented to ECHO.

With only 30 employees, volunteers are an essential part of ECHO’s work, says Nanette. During the pandemic, they saw a significant loss in the number of people able to volunteer, which has severely impacted their work. They are looking for anyone willing and able to volunteer their time to their various programs.

Visit to learn more about how you can volunteer and donate to help those in the community.

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