In fact, just last month, approximately 100 children within Massac County might have not had a meal to eat on a Saturday and Sunday if it wasn’t for the Week-end Blessings program, which was started by Taylor Deming, a senior at Massac County High School and 2013 Miss Metropolis.
Before Deming was even crowned, at age 16, she noticed the need of children within her local area.
“It started after participating in the Under the Bridge missionary program in Nashville that my youth department at First United Methodist Church (FUMC) had helped in,” explained Deming. “I witnessed those people in need and made me think about my community and how many people we had in the similar situation just within Massac County.”
The program, which begun in February 2012, continues to grow with more children needing help due to the bleak economy that continues to hit the region. And with more children being helped, monetary funding needs grow as well.
Deming’s platform, which is Backpack Program: Feeding America, has enabled her to speak to schools and benevolent organizations. After speaking to Maple Grove School students, Maple Grove expressed interest in having their students added to the growing list of those needing this service. Thanks to the generosity of over nine churches - including a church in Pope County - and local organizations, 26 students from Maple Grove School was added to the program in December.
“Ninety-one students from Metropolis Elementary, primary, junior high and high school are provided bags of food each week, serving kids from Head Start to high school,” stated Sherry Deming, assistant youth director at FUMC and also a Blessing volunteer. “Another group of individuals are providing 16 bags which go to Brookport/Unity school students.”
Each Week-end bag costs about $5 to fill, meaning the program needs at least $500 a week or $2000 a month. There are always four entrée-type items, two breakfasts and at least two snacks.
“This is the only food program where a child being hungry is the sole criteria for receiving food,” said Sherry Deming.
The bags are filled on Wednesday evenings at the Methodist church with an average of 10 students and 12 adults helping.
The Wednesday night youth group filled 120 bags on Jan. 23. Prior to working on the bags, Sherry Deming’s lesson that evening was “using your talents to serve God.”
“I had one student say they didn’t have any talents, but I told them ‘Oh, yes you do, you serve other people by helping with the Week-end Blessings,’” added Deming.
Teachers who work with children at the various schools identify the students to be served, such as Alissa Hayes, a FUMC church member and teacher at Metropolis Elementary.
Hayes works with teachers to locate hungry students and to distribute bags weekly to those who have shown they are hungry. Hayes explained a recent incident: “A child told her teacher, who later told me, that without the food bags she and her siblings would not have eaten that weekend. They had been staying with their mother and there was no food in the house.”
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