OKEMOS, MI — Twice a month, the 2/42 Community Church in Okemos turns into a food distribution center where this week's good neighbors assemble thousands of weekend survival kits that are passed out to area school children in Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton counties who do not always have enough to eat after school and on the weekend.
The Founder of Weekend Survival Kits, Jeff Gorsline, says what they do is absolutely needed.
“People don't realize how simple and powerful food is. Just allowing a child to not have to worry about where their food is going to come from is so important to them," said Gorsline. "An alarming number of mid-Michigan children deal with food insecurity – especially when they aren’t in school. When the weekend comes, one out of four kids deals with food insecurity. They go home and they have no idea where they're going to get their next meal for the next two days.”
Kyla Parkland is the Director of Operations for Weekend Survival Kits. She helps to organize the volunteers who assemble the food kits twice a month and says it’s a rewarding job knowing you are helping kids.
“Our mission is to give hope to hungry kids, so we do that by providing supplemental food kits for children who receive free or reduced school lunch at school," Parkland said. "Sometimes they go home on the weekend, and they don't have anything to eat so they come back to school on Monday, they can't concentrate, they can't learn, so we want to make sure they come to school on Monday with a full belly so that they can really get the most out of their education.”
Kyla also organizes drivers who distribute the kits to area schools. Volunteers – like Williamston high school junior Carly Clos.
“We grab a box which is full of food, and we open it and load it. We put the food in little baggies," Carly said. "We make sure that we double knot the bag, so nothing falls out. After that, we group the bags into groups of thirty. And then we repeat the process.”
Volunteer Julianne Gibbons brings her four kids to help pack up the kits.
“They think it’s not fair that they have to do chores," Gibbons said. "I say to them, what’s not fair is some kids are hungry. They have so much fun though, and it’s good to practice math.”
Volunteers pack all the kits in one evening. The next morning, volunteer drivers like Patti Roost come to pick up the kits and deliver them to the local schools.
“It's so meaningful for me to go to the schools and see the staff and the teachers and their commitment and their involvement," said Roost. "You know sometimes I could just cry because they just care so much about making sure their kids are safe and not hungry.”
Jeff says Weekend Survival Kits wouldn’t exist without the volunteers.
“They are just amazing, miraculous people that want to come on board, and they understand what they're doing, and they love it," Gorsline said. "They are telling a child or many children that somebody cares about them.”
For more information about Weekend Survival Kits - visit their website here.
We would like to say thank you to all the Weekend Survival Kit volunteers, you are this week’s Good Neighbors.
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