It look's like you don't have Adobe Flash Player installed. Get it now.
A local charity is teaming up with a national company this week to raise funds and food to feed hungry children in Taney County. KSMU’s Shane Franklin has details.
Gift of Hope is the local focus of a national community service project, sponsored by CenturyLink. Gift of Hope Director Meghan Connell says she’s excited about the potential of this year’s event, called the “Backpack Buddies Feed the Children Food Drive.”
“We would feed 1,600 kids easily, for a year. Oh yea! That would just be mind-blowing; it’s too much for me even to wrap my head around,” Connell confessed.
Gift of Hope’s Backpack Club program currently sponsors over 800 children in eight schools in Taney County. Each Friday of the school year, before the children leave for the weekend, backpacks are distributed to the club members. Each backpack comes with pre-made pasta dishes, fruit cups, peanut butter or cheese crackers, cereal cups, pudding, juice, and a container of shelf-stable soy milk.
It only takes $250 to sponsor a child for the entire school year, from September to May, and because of the purchasing power of Gift of Hope, Connell says it only takes about $4 per week to fill these backpacks with foods that won’t spoil and can be easily prepared by a small child.
“Because the food is so specific and particular; it’s kind of hard to have food drives. We have to make sure that a five year old [can] manipulate the packaging, can open it, it does not have to be refrigerated, [and] it does not have to be heated. So really as far as funding goes, it is critical for the success of the backpack club program,” explains Connell.
During this week’s food drive, for every dollar donated to Gift of Hope, CenturyLink will match it up to $6. For every pound of food donated, CenturyLink will give $1.
Connell explains that 100 percent of the funds donated to Gift of Hope purchases food for the bellies of hungry children in Taney County. No fees are taken out for administrative costs.
According to Connell, participants of the Backpack Club are recommended by school officials- Teachers, counselors, lunch room attendants, and bus drivers, if child is observed demonstrating signs of hunger.
“Let’s say for example that during the week, the lunch room attendant will see a little one taking food items off their lunch tray and sneaking it into their pocket, that’s one big sign. The other big sign is on Monday morning; coming into school you either have this little one who is licking their plate, literally, or you have another one who is unable to focus and is asking over and over every fifteen minutes ‘well when’s lunch, when’s lunch,’ and just so focused on when they’re going to eat. That’s really when it is perfectly clear that supplemental food is necessary,” explains Connell.
She says that while they do hope that this food is supplemental, she knows that in some cases this is the only thing these children will eat while away from the school meal program.
For information on how to leverage this opportunity to fight childhood hunger in Taney County, visit our website, KSMU.org.
Where to drop off food and funds to be matched by CenturyLink, through Friday June 7th-
CenturyLink retail office: Gretna Plaza, 2001 Hwy 248, Branson
First Community Bank of the Ozarks in Hollister, Branson, and Forsyth
Branson Fire Stations 1, 2, and 3
Arvest Bank offices in Hollister, Forsyth, and Branson
or call Meghan Connell at 417-546-8062