Local Project Has Already Raised Thousands For Local Backpack Program
Darren Doyle, story and photos:
Many folks are able to turn their hobbies into opportunities for extra cash--some even turn them into careers. Few take those hobbies and go out of their way to raise money for a cause, but one Chalybeate man has done just that with the creation of a photo feature calendar of his own pics that is benefiting needy Edmonson County kids.
Local man Paul Blanton has a passion for the outdoors, his hometown, and photography, and for those that know him, they know he's one of the first guys around that's willing to lend a helping hand with about anything. Paul has helped countless people with projects, an extra hand here or there, and sometimes simply offering encouragement or prayer. He's taken his interests, his kindness, and his helping nature, and created a 2020 calendar featuring his own Edmonson County outdoor photos that benefits the local backpack food program for Edmonson County schools.
"I love spending time outdoors and taking photos of our beautiful scenery here in Edmonson County," he said. "I had the idea to make a calendar a couple years ago but never followed through with it. After some friends and family encouraged me to do it, I thought it might be a good way to help a very good cause right here at home."
Blanton said he regularly posts his nature photos on Facebook and the response is always good. One of his photos was also chosen to be the cover pic of the official Edmonson County Tourism brochure two years ago, which is still being used today. After a recent post on Facebook, he began getting comments and messages from friends who suggested a calendar. When some offered to pledge money towards such a project, he saw the opportunity to help others.
"The backpack program is such a needed program," he said. "We have 140 local students that depend on this program to supply food for them over the weekend. So many kids are hungry when they're not in school and the backpack program is crucial to them. For some, it's all they have to eat once they leave school."
A few examples of the 2020 calendar.
Without much advertising, Blanton's friends and local businesses heard about his plan and began donating money toward the costs. He had enough in just a few days to cover the cost of 500 calendars, which have all been sold in less than two weeks. Proceeds from the project have already raised nearly $2500 for the local program.
Blanton's family is also heavily involved with local causes and volunteer work. He has two sisters, Melissa Meinhardt who works at South Edmonson Elementary and has first-hand knowledge of some student needs, and Michelle McCoy, who is a volunteer representative for the Edmonson County Backpack Program through Feeding America. His father, Mike Blanton is also no stranger to local causes. He's been a member of the Lions Club for decades and puts in countless volunteer hours across the county all year long.
Paul says that if you missed out on the first order of calendars, not to worry, as another shipment has been ordered. He hopes they will be available in time for the fair, where he plans to offer them to the public there for only $10 each. All proceeds will benefit the local program and 100% of those profits will stay in Edmonson County.
"I sure didn't do this to make the news," he said, "but we'd obviously like to tell as many people as possible so that all the kids in the backpack program can be helped. If all goes well, hopefully we can do this each year."
To purchase your calendar, you can call or text Paul directly at 270-597-7799 or through his Facebook pages: Paul Blanton and EC Calendar Fundraiser. Blanton said the calendars will also be available at the following businesses in a couple weeks: