Helping hungry kids in Lamar
By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, email@example.com
Seconds after the black SUV parks at Lamar’s Cambridge Apartments, kids and their parents emerge with smiles and open arms, hugging Gay Jeffords and Sue Ingram, catching up on their lives, and gratefully accepting bags of much-needed food.
“It’s a Godsend. They’re like my angels,” said one young mother, watching as her little boy hugged the two familiar visitors.
Jeffords and Ingram work together in the Darlington County School District, and every Thursday morning, they meet at Lamar Elementary School, load up the SUV and make their deliveries as part of the Lamar Food Busters program, which aims to shore up food supply gaps for children in need.
Inspired by the work of Carolina Kids in Hartsville and Darlington, the ladies teamed up with organizer Andrea Pulling and Lamar Elementary principal Garry Flowers in March to establish a feeding program for their town’s schoolchildren. By partnering with Harvest Hope Food Bank, local churches and community members, they garnered enough donations to feed more than fifty children every week.
“We had such overwhelming community help, especially from Lamar Baptist Church. They have taken us on as a local mission,” says Jeffords, praising the generosity of those she asked for assistance.
“I was out there right away, hitting up some friends, and I have heard not one ‘no.’ Everybody has contributed,” she says.
Jeffords was delighted by one donation effort in particular: her grandchildren set up a lemonade stand this summer and raised over $100 to help feed hungry kids.
“They were running up and down the street yelling, “Lemonade!” and they told people what it was for,” says Jeffords, adding that the kids later helped her shop for food and pack donations.
In fact, contributions were so steady that they decided to continue the program beyond the school year.
“Hunger doesn’t stop in the summer,” says Ingram. “We bring them enough to feed them two breakfasts and two lunches and something to drink… enough to help get them through the weekend.”
Food Busters deliveries consist of kid-friendly meals that youngsters can prepare without the aid of an adult, including things like cereal, mac-and-cheese, canned pasta meals, and fruit bars.
There is no application process, and Lamar Food Busters works mostly on referrals from teachers, pastors, and sometimes from the parents themselves.
“We ask the parents if they’re okay with this,” Ingram notes. “A parent can say, ‘that would really be helpful, if we could just have a little extra food to get us through.’”
Jeffords and Ingram don’t plan to stop with the Food Busters program; they’re working to expand other Carolina Kids services into Lamar, such as afterschool feeding and homework help, and Kid’s Closet outlet to provide youngsters with gently used outfits for the school year.
To learn more about Carolina Kids and how you can help make a difference in your community, call (843) 639-7239 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.