Monthly Archives: April 2013

~April 2013~ Kids Food Basket

What do you think of when you hear “childhood hunger”?  What images come to mind??

Maybe something like this:

Poverty hunger

A child far away in a third world country, drinking river water and devouring whatever food scraps she can come across?

Or how about something like this:

The child of a homeless parent, gobbling down food given at a soup kitchen?

The child of a homeless parent, dirty and disheveled,  gobbling down food given from a soup kitchen?


How shocked would you be if it was a child that looked more like….this:

Clean face, combed hair, smile on his face.  THIS couldn't be the face of childhood hunger, could it?!?

Clean face, combed hair, big smile. THIS couldn’t be the face of childhood hunger, could it?!?

It could be.  It could be your child or your niece or nephew or your neighbor kid or a student in the classroom when you’re doing lunch duty.  It could be a patient you wait on, a kid whose hair you cut, someone you drive in carpool.  Hunger is not partial to gender or race or social class.  It can strike students at public schools, private schools, charter schools and home schools.  It sends MILLIONS of children to bed nightly with hunger pains 😦

I have no doubt in my mind that you have experienced hunger pains before.  You know the ones. Your tummy is completely empty, not a drop of food in there to spare. And it feels like someone reached in and grabbed hold of your intestines and twisted them into a pretzel knot and THEN punched you.  You get a headache.  You get really irritated.  HUNGER.  You can do something about it usually, right?  You can grab a snack from a vending machine, or out of your cupboards.  You can pull over at Arby’s.  You can throw together a bunch of things from your refrigerator and make an appetizer that Paula Dean would be proud of, right?!?  Right!

(Unless you "cook" like I do...then that whole Paula Dean part is just a fantasy)

(Unless you “cook” like I do…then that whole Paula Dean part is just a fantasy)

AND if you’re a parent, especially one living in the United States of America, you have the power to ensure that your children will always be fed and will never have to experience this, right?!?!   MAYBE.  But maybe not.

“According to a report by the USDA in 2008, 16.7 million children in the United States are living in food insecure households.  Food insecurity refers to the lack of access to enough food to fully meet basic needs at all times due to lack of financial resources.  Food security is a term used to describe what our nation should be seeking for all its people – assured access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life, with no need for recourse to emergency food sources or other extraordinary coping behaviors to meet basic food needs.” {information provided by http://www.kidsfoodbasket.org}

Times are still tough, people.  Times are tough for families that used to be financially independent and aren’t anymore.  Times are tough for families that had it tough before, and now they are devastating.  I personally live in a nice, middle class neighborhood where all of the residents take pride in their houses and care for their landscaping and clean up their dog crap.  The parents hang out on each other’s porches and the kids run from backyard to backyard.  We share juice boxes and popsicles and cracker packs with all of the kids running around and burning energy, but there is a little kid that lives on the opposite side of the street from me that asks neighbors for food all summer long.  Not snacks either, but rather full fledged meals.  When school isn’t in session and this child no longer receives breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria, and sack suppers to take home at the end of the day for dinner, there is a hunger issue.   The child’s single mother works full time and pays her taxes and makes sure her child gets to all of her doctor visits and eye exams and dental appointments, but sometimes that doesn’t leave enough left over for groceries that week.  We do what we can to help, but places like Kids Food Basket (<–click on it) do more.

WHAT IS KIDS FOOD BASKET, you ask?  (You didn’t ask??  Well, you should have.  And who cares, I’m gonna tell you anyway):

~~ “Kids’ Food Basket is the only organization in greater Grand Rapids dedicated to attacking childhood hunger. We currently provide Sack Suppers to nearly 5,000  kids every day during the school year, plus hundreds more at local sites in the summer.  The schools we serve have a student population in which 80% or more of students live at or near the poverty level. Even with this requirement, we currently serve 38 sites, and there is consistent demand for our services. We have a number of schools on our waiting list at any given time.”

~~ “Sack Suppers mean that lunch does not have to be a child’s last meal of the day. They are an evening meal distributed at school and taken home. With over 1,000 calories and five food groups, each Sack Supper provides nutrition that’s critical to the development of healthy bodies and strong minds.  Sack Suppers are a critical victory in the attack on childhood hunger.  School officials provide Kids’ Food Basket with the number of children at their site that they know are living in food insecure households. Often, children self-report that they have not eaten since yesterday at school. In addition, teachers, nurses and social workers recognize the signs of poor nutrition, which include listlessness, low energy, below normal growth, pale complexion, circles under their eyes and poor concentration.”

~~ “Kids’ Food Basket does not receive any funds from the Federal, State, County or City Governments. We receive monies through grants from local foundations, local businesses, individuals and community organizations.  Kids’ Food Basket has a small paid staff, including executive director Bridget Clark Whitney, who has been with the organization since its inception in 2002.  In addition to our staff, Kids’ Food Basket is guided by an active and amazing founder, Mary K. Hoodhood, and a supportive board. Every day, over 175 volunteers join us at Kids’ Food Basket headquarters to pack and deliver Sack Suppers — it is truly a community effort!”
**all facts taken from the Kids Food Basket web site**

Back when I was in the planning stages of My Sudden Attack of Conscience, I asked my friends and family and Facebook followers what some of their favorite charities were.  Kids Food Basket was my number one reply.  I am curious to know how many other cities have something in place like this??  I can’t wait to do Good Things for this one.  I had only heard of KFB before, but when I started researching it I knew it was special.  It is NEVER a child’s fault that there is no money for food.  A child should NEVER have to wake up or make it through the day or go to bed hungry.  This organization is trying to make sure that they don’t, and I totally love that.  If you have an extra ten dollars in your account this minute, this week or this month, P*L*E*A*S*E consider visiting  http://www.kidsfoodbasket.org/donate/donate-online and clicking the red DONATE ONLINE tab.  I will be sending my $10, as well as volunteering to pack Sack Suppers AND deliver them to the schools.  I will also be collecting 100% Fruit Juice Boxes!!  Kids Food Basket uses over 100,000 juice boxes a year  MONTH!  My daughter’s class (and maybe even her whole school, if I can swing it) will be decorating 8lb. paper sacks to deliver the Sack Suppers in.  This month should be FULL of great experiences ~ won’t you dig in with me? 🙂

Sluuuuuuuurp!

Sluuuuuuuurp!

 

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COME AS STRANGERS, LEAVE AS FRIENDS :)

Phew!  I feel like I am finally recovered from an amazing weekend in Chicago where we attended a Shave-A-Thon for Charity #3, St. Baldrick’s Foundation.  I feel like I had jet lag.  Only…I didn’t take a jet.  I guess it was all of the nerves and excitement and the anxiety of making sure I had everything ready to go.  It was probably also the combined seven hours of sleep I got that entire week leading up to it 😉  But I was so excited!!!  And how could I not be??  Together, we raised well over the $100 goal that I set for all of my charites.  We raised $600.00 to be exact. Dayum.

That’s six hundred dollars that goes directly to PEDIATRIC cancer research.  “Did you know that all types of childhood cancers combined only receive 4% of U.S. federal funding for cancer research?  And that about 60% of all funding for drug development in adult cancers comes from pharmaceutical companies, but for kids??…almost none, because childhood cancer drugs are not profitable.”  {~taken from stbaldricks.org.}
NOT. PROFITABLE.  That makes me sick.  These are kids we’re talking about here.  Most of them are not even old enough to drive themselves to appointments or sign off on medical documents without a parent or guardian being present.  But they are not profitable, and their lives are not worth it.  If only they were thirty years older…only then do the pharmaceutical giants think they deserve a shot.  If you follow my Facebook page, then you know that I was mostly inspired to choose this charity because of a little girl named Donna.

Image

Donna Lu Quirke Hornik~ just one of (too) many faces of pediatric cancer.

I first read about Donna a couple of years ago, when her mom published a blog detailing Donna’s 31 months of cancer treatment over a period of thirty one days.  Donna was only 20 months old when she was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor, papillary meningioma.  She died when she was four years, two months, four weeks, and one day old.  But more important than those 2 moments in her life were the two and a half years in between where Donna chose happiness and fun and hope and tantrums and love and dancing and sassiness and being a big sister, everything that a child her age should be choosing.  I was also inspired to choose this charity because of Donna’s parents, namely her mom Sheila who writes the amazing blog Mary Tyler Mom.  If you haven’t read Donna’s Cancer Story on her page, I encourage you to start here http://www.chicagonow.com/mary-tyler-mom/2011/08/gold-is-the-new-pink/.

Donna’s mom and dad could have crumbled, but they didn’t.  They could have holed up in their home, locked all the doors, turned out all of the lights and never come out again, but they didn’t.  THEY CHOSE HOPE.  They’re still choosing hope.  And they are the coolest people.  I met them this weekend, along with their little boy Jay, Donna’s younger brother.  They smile and laugh and joke and play and comfort.  I also got to meet some of my other favorite bloggers like Katy from I Want A Dumpster Baby, Karin from Pinwheels and Poppies, Chris from From The Bungalow, and one of my fave girls Jeanna from My Children Think I’m Perfect who SHAVED HER HEAD BALD after raising $2,041.00 for St. Baldrick’s!!!  Jeanna and her hubby Doug rode with me, my hubby Greg, my sister Ellen and her boyfriend Jake to Chicago.  Doug, Greg and Jake also shaved their heads in support of pediatric cancer awareness (and so did Jeanna’s young son and tween daughter!  They are super brave, especially with how nasty kids can be these days).   Although we spend plenty of time together in virtual life, it was our first time ever meeting in real life and we had the best time!  Thank God, because six hours there and back is a looooooong time to travel with people if you don’t mesh 😉  We devoured these awesome loaded tator tots and mingled with celebrities and spent all day in a room full of courageous shavees, ranging in age from 11 to 89!  All together, the Chicago Shave-A-Thon event raised over $40,000.00!!!  We will definitely be going  back next year, so start saving your pennies…I’ll be coming after ’em!  Thank you so much to everyone who donated to Charity #3, especially my Aunt Karen and my Uncle Bruce, who had their company BW Manufacturing (www.bwmanufacturing.com) generously match $250.00 of the money raised!!   Because of people like them and because of people like you one day there WILL be enough money for research and medication and prevention and awareness and cures.  You just gotta keep choosing hope.

Team My Sudden Attack of Shaved Hair!  And no, I am not REALLY grabbing anyone inappropriately....at least, I don't think I am.

Team My Sudden Attack of Shaved Hair! And no, I am not REALLY grabbing anyone inappropriately….at least, I don’t think I am.

 

Jake was one of the first shavees to go, while Sheila from Mary Tyler Mom cheered everyone on.

Jake was one of the first shavees to go, while Sheila from Mary Tyler Mom cheered everyone on.

 

My hubby went in like this...

My hubby went in like this…

...and came out like this.  March Madness dork!

…and came out like this. March Madness dork!

The couple that shaves together...

The couple that shaves together…

...stays together :)  Doug and Jeanna from My Children Think I'm Perfect.  Look her up on Facebook.  She is amazing! xoxo

…stays together 🙂 Doug and Jeanna from My Children Think I’m Perfect. Look her up on Facebook. She is amazing! xoxo

Look at the company I'm forced to keep.

Look at the company I’m forced to keep.

Just LOOK at it!!! ;)

Just LOOK at it!!! 😉

I've gone stir crazy with these people!

I’ve gone stir crazy in the car with my seeester!

Some of my faves <3

Some of my faves 🙂  Left to right ~I Want A Dumpster Baby, Mary Tyler Mom, and Pinwheels and Poppies.  Look them up on Facebook too!

SO. EFFING. PROUD.Some of the best people I've ever known.  They're choosing hope! xoxo

SO. EFFING. PROUD.
Some of the best people I’ve ever known.  Jake, Doug, Jeanna and Greg are choosing hope! xoxo

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