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Feeding children, loving kids, right in our own backyard
It is all about the children.
Last week the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation (EWVCF) awarded Bags of Love, a local student weekend feeding program led by One Hope International, two gifts of $ 2500 dollars each so that no child goes hungry in the Eastern Panhandle. These gifts funded by the Frada Fine Berkeley Education Foundation and C. Scott and Elizabeth Shade Fund will provide 1,000 food bags for students this fall.
Bags of Love is grateful for the trust in and support of the children in our Eastern Panhandle. Michael Whalton, Executive Director of the EWVCF had very kind remarks about Bags of Love in awarding these two gifts. “We applaud your fine work for the youth of our community and wish you the very best with this project.”
One Hope International formed Bags of Love in August 2010 to focus on feeding children who were going hungry over the weekend while away from free school breakfast and lunch. Aware that hundreds of students were returning on Monday to school tired and on empty stomachs, One Hope began uniting individuals, churches, businesses and area non-profits to combine their resources in a unified effort to wipe out child hunger one student at a time.
Since its launch two years ago, Bags of of Love has distributed over 30,000 bags of food to local schools who then discreetly and confidentially place these weekend food gifts into the backpacks of students. School counselors and teachers are the lead on-site angels of love in this weekend feeding program.
One student said, “I don’t worry anymore about whether I have enough food at home when I leave school for the weekend. It is always there every Friday to take home with me.”
Packing these bags of food means dozens of volunteers gathering each month to assemble
hundreds of food packets which are then taken by area churches and local residents to the schools each week no matter what the weather or personal sacrifice of time may require.
Craig and Chris Mason are a middle age couple who willingly take part of their day off on Fridays to take food bags to Berkeley Heights School. Principal Scott Albright supports Bags of Love processing monthly at Orchard View Intermediate. Bunker Hill United Methodist Church is one of several local churches financially supporting the five dollar per child cost of each weeks bag of love. Many local businesses help to underwrite this remarkable feeding ministry.
Bags of Love Coordinator, Misty Francis, a local teacher leads Bags of Love with a fresh integrity, vibrant spirit and loving heart. She is a team builder. She is a woman of great character. People trust Misty. She grew up in the Panhandle and knows the needs of children first-hand.
“I love our community. Most of all I care about our children. This program is not about me. It is only the kids who matter,“says Ms. Francis.
Bags of Love has also recently expanded into area high density, low income housing units, taking food to children and families on-site over the summer. Many in these housing units have unreliable transportation or little money for gas. Each week, bags of love are distributed led by Joel Larson and area teenagers who freely and compassionately make sure each child has enough food to eat while away from school breakfast and lunch.
Hunger is diminishing in our region. Hope is growing in our community. Health is coming back to our homes in many neighborhoods. It is happening because people care enough to do something positive and give back to their own community.
Each weekend, every day, it really is simply “all about the children.”