Those in attendance at the Stryker track meet against the likes of Edon, Pettisville, and North Central on May 5 might have noticed one of the vehicles in the parking lot attracting a fair amount of attention. A white pick-up truck, adjourned with a white poster board displaying the words “Panther Pack” remained parked for the duration of the meet, gradually adding to its special cargo in its bed.
The Shindledecker siblings, Emma, Sean, and Dean, in conjunction with the Stryker chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, hosted a food drive during the event, challenging anyone within earshot to “Pack the Pickup.” The goal of the fundraiser was to obtain enough food to extend the Panther Pack program, which currently provides a free meal over each weekend for any elementary student who requests it, to include the Stryker junior high and high school student body for the 2015-16 school year. That benchmark was met, with more than 400 food items being collected by the Shindledeckers in roughly three hours time.
What’s even more impressive is that, initially, a Lady Panther softball game was to take place as well, which would have bolstered the number of potential donations significantly. Yet, due to inclement field conditions following heavy rain fall, the sporting even was canceled. That the program’s food drive was able to still achieve such a degree of success is a testament not only to the Shindledecker family, but the area communities so eager to contribute to their cause as well.
With so much accomplished in such a short amount of time, the Panther Pack founders are well aware that they could not have established the program alone. Their parents, Tad and Susan, have been instrumental in helping them to organize their resources and provide encouragement for their plans. Several school employees, such as teacher and track coach Larry Freshour and teacher Matt Arnos have put in a multitude of hours assisting Emma, Sean, and Dean in shaping the program. School Principal Dave Schultz, whom was among the first to hear of the Shindledeckers’ plan, backed the idea from the very start and laid the groundwork for the program to become a reality. And, of course, Superintendent Nate Johnson and the members of the Stryker Board of Education bestowed their blessing upon the Panther Pack initiative as well.
It was with the help of all those people that the Shindledecker trio were able to not only create the program, but meet the goal of expanding it to cover the entire Stryker school district.
Those wishing to donate to the program, but happened to miss the drive, can make arrangements to do so from its Facebook page, which can be found by searching “Panther Packs.”
T.J. Hug can be reached at