Group Makes a Difference in the lives of homeless students | News
Bradenton, Florida - Back packs usually filled with school supplies to nourish the mind during the week are now filled with food to help nourish the young bodies of 72 homeless students in Manatee County over the weekend.
"These kids, some of them live in cars, in vans. Some live in wooded areas," says Jane Evers. "It's the times. A lot of it is the economy. They've lost their jobs, lost their homes."
Every week, Evers and a group of volunteers pack the 72 back packs, drop them off at five area schools and pick them up again after the weekend to start the process over.
"We just want the child to know every weekend they are going to have food, when before they didn't know if they were going to until they went back to school on Monday," says Evers.
Volunteer Pat Roberts says this helps the parents too. "They have the feeling that someone does care about them, that they are not alone in their struggle," says Roberts.
The non-profit group called FELT or Feeding Empty Little Tummies packed its first back pack January 7, after Evers learned Manatee County has about about 1,000 homeless school kids. FELT feeds homeless students at five elementary schools: Palmetto, Rogers, Rowlett, Oneco and Samoset.
Evers says, "I wasn't going to go home and knit or scrub the kitchen floors. When I found out this need was not being met in the community, I said, 'OK there's your niche, Jane. It'll keep you out of trouble in retirement.'"
FELT will take on a sixth school next week, after students return to class from their Christmas break. The group hopes to add two more if donations are up.
When donating food, remember to keep the family size boxes out. It's too big for the back packs. Volunteers say stick to individual serving sizes and keep the food kid friendly.
Evers says, "Makes you feel good to know you are helping some child that was going to go hungry that weekend."
FELT is looking for food and monetary donations. The money is used to supplement food it does not receive through donations and to purchase the back packs. Evers says the items most needed are 1 quart packets of powdered milk, dinner entrees such as ravioli cups, Mac'n cheese cups, beanie weenies, canned chicken, tuna salad, Vienna sausages, spam packets, etc.
To learn more about the group and other items to donate go to FELT's website: http://www.feltinc.org/