Darren Doyle, Edmonson Voice
When most of us hear about helping hungry kids, we often think of the tv commercials with the kids from third world countries. We hear a sad commentary about how the kids eat garbage, have no clothes, and are ridden with filth and disease. Most of us here in Edmonson County dismiss the pleas for help because small town folks are sometimes leery of national or worldwide charity organizations.
No doubt, there are hungry people all over the world and it seems like there's not a lot one individual can do, but when it comes to Edmonson County, there are some folks that have tried to change that over the last few years with the Adopt-A-Backpack Program. The program sends non-perishable food items home to hungry EC students every Thursday throughout the year to help get them through the weekend. "While the students are at school, we know they're being fed, but when they go home, some of them don't have anything to eat until they return to school," said Michelle McCoy, program volunteer.
Several years ago, when McCoy was president of the 5/6 Center PTO, she heard Lynette Salings with the Family Resource Center give a report on the shortage of funding that was needed to help hungry Edmonson County children. McCoy asked her church to step in and donate, which they did, and other local churches have done the same. Last year, an employee of the Edmonson County Extension office helped coordinate the effort. The employee was paid through a grant but the grant money expired, forcing the employee to find another job and no one was immediately able to help see that the program continued. That's where McCoy stepped up and decided to volunteer.
"This was going to put the entire program on hold for months," she said. "No food, no money, nothing, because nobody was there to take care of it...I couldn't stand to see that happen so I volunteered to do it."
McCoy said the program usually feeds 140-150 kids during a school year, but there's only enough funding right now to take care of 95-100. That means Edmonson County kids are still in need.
How great is the need? "Teachers have caught kids stealing ketchup packets to take home," McCoy said. "Some of these cases are probably instances where parents have food stamps but aren't using them correctly," she continued. "The parents could do better, but they choose not to...that's not the kids' fault. The worst part is, according to school staff, the problem is getting worse because they see more parents that aren't taking care of their kids."
Are you ready to do something yet? For a one-time $100, you can sponsor an Edmonson County child for an entire school year. Your $100 stays right here in the county and it will be used to fill a bag with food items that a child can eat without cooking or needing additional help. Things like snacks, juice boxes, ravioli, other prepackaged goods and non perishables are sent home with the kids.
Morgan Esters, Youth Service Coordinator for ECMS and ECHS, said the program is very discrete and the food items are sent home with the needy kids while the other students are kept unaware of the ones that use the program. "A one-time donation guarantees one child food every Thursday or Friday, " she said.
Esters said all Youth Service Centers and Family Resource Centers are involved in the program for anyone wishing to contact any of those offices. "In one of our recent meetings, we were asked the question of which was more important, the backpack program or Christmas angel program," she said. "I would tell you it's food over gifts. The Christmas Angel is a great program, and we need help with that, too, but this is so important."
"There are approximately 12 to 15 items in the bags that go home with the kids," McCoy added. "It's just heartbreaking, really." She also told us that the kids' appreciation for the acts of kindness and knowing that they have something to eat was worth all the work that volunteers put into it.
To make a donation online that will go directly to Edmonson County children, simply click here, be sure to choose $100 donation, and make sure your donation is designated toward Edmonson County in the form.
You can either download the form below or print the photo and mail with a $100 check. Your one time donation will certainly make a difference in one child's life. Ravioli may not sound like much to you, but it's better than ketchup packets, or nothing at all.