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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Little girl turns birthday party into helping feed hungry kids

Rebecca Synder, 7, sits among the canned goods she collected
at her birthday party for the Pack-A-Sack 4 Kids program
I love when I hear about or see good things kids in our community are doing. I think it's important to highlight what's right with our youth instead of dwelling on the negative things.

A few weeks ago a friend's daughter, Rebecca, had a party for her seventh birthday. She asked her mom if on the invitation they could ask people to bring canned goods and other non-perishable items to her birthday to help kids at schools who go hungry on the weekends. I was really impressed a young child would think about helping other kids who are less fortunate. 

How would a 7-year-old know about kids being hungry? Rebecca sees and helps her mom pack 50 bags of food for local elementary school children every week at Faith Community Church. Her mom is part of a women's Bible study who have adopted kids from Bardmoor Elementary and Orange Grove Elementary School and who bring food to the schools so the kids can take the bags home on the weekends.

It's hard to imagine, but little kids in elementary school are going hungry on the weekends in Pinellas County. During the week, these kids are able to get some food with the free or reduced breakfast and lunch programs, but when school isn't in session they go hungry.

I didn't realize this until a few years ago when I was introduced to the community outreach program of United Methodist Cooperative Ministries/Suncoast called Pack-A-Sack 4 Kids. This program works with the school boards in Pinellas, Manatee and Pasco counties to provide food to children who desperately need it on the weekends.

The women's Bible study at Faith Community Church is just one of the many organizations helping provide food to children at local schools. I know first- hand it takes a lot of coordination and contributions from others to help make this program successful.

At Faith, one of the ladies who heads up the ministry is Barbi Pierson. She not only organizes the donations and coordinates the packing of the bags, but she is also a phenomenal coupon shopper. Let's just say a dollar goes a long way when Barbi shops. Each bag of food purchased ends up being about $3 per kid and includes items that have a long shelf life like cereals, peanut butter, crackers, condensed milk, canned fruit etc.

Recently holiday bags were packed for the kids with extra food, so when the kids are out of school for the Thanksgiving break they will have food during the week. The food Rebecca collected at her party helped fill those bags. It takes a community to make projects like this work and it's inspiring to me to see kids doing good deeds and being a part of the community at a young age.

If you want to help or donate to this program email Barbi Pierson at 

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