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Because Hunger Doesn’t End on Friday

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Imagine being a child, struggling to concentrate in class because your stomach is aching from hunger.

Imagine being a mom struggling to keep your children fed as you work multiple jobs just to keep from being evicted from your home.

Imagine this taking place in an area of the country that is noted as the "wealthiest in the nation" where no one thinks it could be possible for a child to go hungry.

Unfortunately, this is a reality for thousands of children and families in Northern Virginia (1 in 6 children in the state of Virginia.) Backpack Buddies is on a mission to “Be The Change” for the children and families in Sterling, Virginia and we hope you will join us.

The St. Matthew’s Backpack Buddies Program has a crazy, amazing, big stretch, goal this New Years Eve: raise $73,500 before January 1, 2016. We must do this so we can provide nutritious meals on weekends for hundreds of children in Sterling, Virginia who may otherwise go hungry in 2016. Will you join us?

How you can help:

  1. Donate Now
  • $7 feeds a child for one weekend - two breakfast, two lunches, two dinners, plus snacks.
  • $28 feeds a child every weekend for one month.
  • $245 feeds a child each weekend during the school year.
  • Donations of any amount are gratefully accepted and provide much needed nutrition for a child who might otherwise go without

2.   SHARE this message with your friends and family and ask them to join you in making a gift. See our crazy, amazing, big stretch goal above? We can only raise $73,500 if you help us spread the word to others who share the dream that no child should ever go hungry. Share on Email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Please help give this campaign all you've got!  

You can copy and paste this URL for sharing:  http://www.stmtts.org/end-school-hunger.

3.   If you are local to Northern Virginia

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” Mother Teresa

The Kuhns Family: Why We Support Backpack Buddies

I never thought my family would be in need of a service like bacKpack buddies, I don’t think any of us every really do….until the unimaginable happens. 

For us, it was an unexpected layoff.  My husband searched for work, yet our savings dwindled and ultimately we had to cash in his 401k. A few mini contracting jobs helped, however, our situation was becoming dire.  We soon didn’t have the resources to even provide for our children’s most basic need, food.  It was devastating.  While I was able to get my children signed up for the the free/reduced priced lunch program, we still struggled to be able to provide healthy food for our children in the evenings and on the weekends.

It was then that I recalled from my volunteer work at the school, children being given special backpacks to take home on Fridays. I inquired in the office about it and that is when I learned of the wonderful support that Backpack Buddies provides. I knew that if I could get my children into the program, they would be ok.  So I swallowed my pride and asked if my family could sign up.  Without hesitation, the answer I received was “yes.”

My children began bringing backpacks home on the weekends which provided breakfast, lunch and snack foods.  This supplemented our weekend food budget tremendously. My kids loved the special treats that generous donors gave. It was like Christmas each Friday to them to see what goodies they were going to be eating over the weekend. Thanks to Backpack buddies, my husband and I had a little less stress on the weekends knowing our children’s nutritional needs would be met.

I can happily report that my husband has a steady job and now we are blessed to be able to give back.  Although we currently live in Texas we are committed to supporting the Backpack Buddies program at St. Matthews that provided my children with vital support when we needed it most.  I hope you will join us.  Any amount will make a difference in the health and wellbeing of our children.

“Recent research shows that many children who do not have enough to eat wind up with diminished capacity to understand and learn. Children don’t have to be starving for this to happen. Even mild undernutrition – the kind most common among poor people in America – can do it.” - Carl Sagan

A Teacher’s Perspective: Isabella’s Story

At the beginning of each school year, days before students arrive, teachers are given a placement card for each student with notes from the teacher the previous year.  Sometimes those notes are enough and there are no real concerns about a student.  “Happy child, has friends, completes homework, follows classroom rules, etc.”

One year, I received a note for a student named Isabella* which read: “Not much support from home.  Doesn’t complete homework, frequently sleepy in class.”  This left me concerned so I reached out to the teacher Isabella had the previous year, as well as the guidance counselor.  What I discovered was that Isabella was often the caretaker for her 3 younger siblings.  She was typically the one who got them up and ready for school, or who cooked them dinner each night.  So, it was no surprise that this little 9 year- old girl didn’t have time for homework.

Isabella entered my class that year regularly wearing clothes that were dirty or too small.  It is true, quite often she did not have her homework.  She struggled in class.  She was referred to as a “school-based learner” meaning that she did not have opportunities to learn outside of school.  Isabella’s parents were doing everything possible to support their family, both worked multiple jobs, with odd schedules.  Her household was struggling to survive.

As teachers we often find ourselves needing to address home-based issues so that we can better ensure that a student has the best opportunity to learn. While I could not do anything about Isabella’s exhaustion, access to Backpack Buddies made it possible for me to connect Isabella, and her two younger sisters who also attend our school, with a source of nutrition so she didn’t go hungry over the weekends. Isabella and her sisters gratefully now take home a bag of food each week from the Backpack Buddies program.  I would like to believe that the Backpack Buddy program helped that struggling family meet some of their needs each weekend.  I know Isabella benefited from this program.  At least they wouldn’t have to worry about food every weekend. 

100% of donations support the filling of backpacks

How is this possible?  The Backpack Buddies program is run entirely by volunteers and any storage or administrative costs (producing this message for example) are covered by St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Sterling, VA as part of their community outreach mission.  When St. Matthew’s learned of the need in their community they started a local Backpack Buddies program.  Initially serving just 45 children 3 years ago, the program now provides backpacks for nearly 300 children from surrounding schools.

* All names have been changed

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