by Mary Beth Luedtke
When individuals and a community respond to a need, there are always unintended consequences. In the case of Kids Aid, the Backpack Program began because of one elementary child late for school. She literally bumped into the program’s founder and his wife (Mike and Debbie Berry), crying because she had slept in her car, hadn’t eaten and was late for school. As the Berry’s recruited others to address this issue; to feed any hungry child in our Valley, they could not have seen the full magnitude of their actions.
As the program grew and every school began to participate, the schools began to share stories of the impact of this program no one would have anticipated. Children were coming back to school, having eaten over the weekends, happy and energized. They spent two days playing and worrying about getting dirty in the backyard instead of worrying about how to fill their bellies. That was not the surprise. Kids Aid soon found out the benefits were so much more.
Teachers shared children were coming to school engaged and ready to learn. Students who had been quiet, reserved and basically disengaged, started to raise their hands, ask questions and be a part of discussions. Because the school was helping them (via Kids Aid), students were connecting to teachers, other students, and the bigger learning community. They saw themselves as a part of something that cared; cared for their well-being. They began to trust and succeed.
Who would’ve guessed feeding children could do so much? Stories of the impact of this program continue to amaze me with each year. It’s truly amazing.
So when you think about helping others, know that your help will touch lives in many different ways. And your reach is greater than you think.
For more information about Kids Aid and the Backpack Program click here.