It was a special Sunday for one local non-profit and nearly 200 women, and Rotary Club members were able to hear all about it at Wednesday's meeting. Special guests attending were, pictured above, from left, Joy Eaton, Kriste Burnett, Judy Jackson, Barbara Upham and Jill Moore.
100 Women of Palo Pinto County held its inaugural event Sunday afternoon at Coffee and Cocktails at 76067 in downtown Mineral Wells. Misty Nix opened The Market at 76067 for the group to tour and shop.
Jill Moore brought the idea to Palo Pinto County, saying she had sisters in other places, including McKinney, that have similar group fundraisers. The idea is simple – get 100 women to write a $100 check that will go to a winning non-profit agency. That would mean $10,000 going to one fortunate agency.
Only something amazing happened – in its first year 100 Women of Palo Pinto County became 194 women, and on Sunday afternoon Back Pack Buddies of Mineral Wells won a close vote and received $19,400 – nearly half of their annual operating costs.

Nine non-profits applied for the funding award and the 100 Women executive committee pared those to three finalists – Children's Alliance Center for Palo Pinto County and Community Animal Rescue Effort (CARE) were the other two finalists.
Those three organizations each gave a 5-minute presentation to the group Sunday and a vote was taken. The vote was reportedly close among the three finalists – each worthy organizations doing amazing and important work in Palo Pinto County – but Back Pack Buddies of Mineral Wells received the most votes and all the donations.
Plans are to make this an annual event, and each year a different organization will be awarded the donations.
Back Pack Buddies of Mineral Wells has been in operation since 2009 with a mission of making sure no child goes without or too little food over the weekend. What began as a mission of First United Methodist Church has grown into a community-wide effort with volunteers and organizations from across Mineral Wells participating in the acquisition, packaging and delivery of food packs every week.
Executive Director Judy Jackson said Back Pack Buddies is currently providing weekend snack and food packs for 315 Mineral Wells ISD students. The students are selected by teachers and counselors to receive the food packs, which is all done discreetly.
Jackson noted that of the more than 3,200 Mineral Wells ISD students, three-fourths qualify for free or reduced-price meals, and of those 52 percent qualify for free meals based on their home's income levels.
Mineral Wells ISD provides free breakfasts and lunches to students during the school year week, but Jackson said Back Pack Buddies wants to make sure these at-risk youth have access to food during weekends.
Back Pack Buddies also partners with Mineral Wells ISD's summer meals program to help get food to children and youth when school is on break.
Jackson noted the important role Rotary Club of Mineral Wells has played with the organization's growth and success. Rotarian Dan Steele and his wife, Carey Labbe-Steele, along with Jackson helped start Back Pack Buddies. Rotary Club provided $5,000 funding in the initial year, and since then the club's donations have totaled more than $15,000. Club members have also volunteered to pack.
Learn more about Back Pack Buddies of Mineral Wells and 100 Women of Palo Pinto County through their respective Facebook pages.
Rotary Club of Mineral Wells meets every Wednesday at noon at Palo Pinto General Hospital for lunch, socializing, updates on club news and events and a program of interest. Club meetings are for members, invited guests and prospective members.