Columbiana family raises more than $1,400 for Backpack Buddies

By NATHAN HOWELL | Special to the Reporter

COLUMBIANA – Ricky Ruston and his family spent Friday, May 1, bringing a mobile dance party through several Columbiana communities to raise money for the Backpack Buddies program.

The Backpack Buddies program provides food bags every week to children who are at-risk for food insecurity.

Ruston said that after the day was over they had raised $1,442, which they used to purchase and put together 245 bags of snacks and food items for the program.

When checking out, the family had several buggies full of items, and their car was loaded from floor to ceiling in both the back seat and the very back of the vehicle.

The idea was born out of Ruston’s company, Ruston Entertainment, which is a DJ service for events. He explained that he and his family wanted to do something for the community and it turned into a fundraiser.

“Originally we just wanted to hook my sound stuff up and just roll through town and play music,” he said. “My wife Lauren, who is a teacher, suggested that we use it as an opportunity to raise money for Backpack Buddies to benefit local kids.”

Ruston got permission from local officials and let the community know online that he would be coming. Then on May 1, they rode through several areas bringing out residents to have some fun and raise money.

“My two boys, Davis and Griffin, rode in the back of the truck with buckets and collected money and checks, before we even left our neighborhood we had raised around $200,” he explained. “I was hoping to raise around $250-$500, but after it was all over, we ended up with more than $1,400.”

After the money had been collected Ruston spent all of it locally at Piggly Wiggly, and then he and his family spent several hours working on putting the bags together before delivering them.

“It was really just a family event that turned into a way to give back to the community,” Ruston explained. “It was a good service outreach project for my boys and they said it was the best day of their quarantine.”