JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Children in Region 8 are getting some extra help thanks to the generosity of one organization and a well-known celebrity.
An exciting opportunity presented itself to representatives with the Foodbank of Northeast Arkansas to raise funds for the backpack program.
Greenway donated a John Deer Gator that was driven and signed by country music singer Jason Aldean.
From now until Jan. 24, people have the opportunity to buy a ticket to win the Jason Aldean Gator Giveaway!
CEO of the Foodbank of Northeast Arkansas Christie Jordan said this is going to make a big difference in the lives of Region 8 children.
“We don’t get very many celebrity endorsements here in Northeast Arkansas,” Jordan said. “I kept my fingers crossed and hoped that it would happen. I secretly worried probably not, but then he called and confirmed and there was a huge amount of excitement with our staff.”
Jordan said they serve 1100 children every week during the school year.
“There are children who go home on the weekends and maybe they are on their own because their parents work on weekends. Sometimes, unfortunately, children are neglected or maybe they’re being raised by grandparents who are having trouble making ends meet. Or parents having trouble making ends meet. So, we send home kid friendly foods they can open and heat in the microwave and eat. Something for breakfast lunch and dinner for both Saturday and Sunday. That way they come back to school on Monday and have full stomachs over the weekend and be ready to learn.”
School social worker for the Nettleton School District Amy Reed said they have participated in the backpack program for as long as she can remember.
“This is a crucial and vital asset for our students,” Reed said. “We have students here that are hungry and do not get enough resources and food at home. So, we want to be able to reach every student that we know fits this population.”
Reed said they’re seeing some of the largest numbers of students in need they’ve ever seen.
“We are up to 25 students being served with the backpack program,” Reed said. “That is one of our larger numbers in the past several years. I only see that number continue to grow and that’s why we are so grateful and rely so much on the NEA Food Bank. Because without their support we couldn’t reach these students.”
Jordan said there are over 20,000 children who are in food insecure households in Northeast Arkansas.
“Can you imagine being a child in school and you dread the weekend,” Jordan said. “Because you know when you get home there’s not going to be food to eat. So, your food and nourishment during the week comes from your school lunches and breakfast. Not looking forward to the weekend as a child is so sad.”
When a child is enrolled into the backpack program, they make a long-term commitment to that child to provide them with food every year until the need no longer exists.
“You know how you feel when you’re hungry,” Reed said. “We can’t concentrate, sometimes we’re cranky or we can’t focus. You give a kid a good meal and it can totally change their outlook.”
Jordan said every dollar donated makes a huge difference in another person’s life.
“Every dollar you give helps the foodbank,” Jordan said. “Some people believe they can’t give enough to make a difference. Every dollar given provides four meals to someone at the foodbank. So, every little bit matters. People shouldn’t worry that they can’t give more. Just know what you can give makes a huge difference in another’s life and it provides hope and food to others.”
The Foodbank serves 12 counties in Northeast Arkansas, working with 140 partner agencies that help them in food distribution.
Tickets can be purchased now through Jan. 24 at any Greenway Equipment location or the Food Bank of NEA for $10 a ticket and you can purchase as many as you like.
The drawing will be made LIVE on Region 8 News on Friday, Jan. 25.
For more information or to purchase tickets online, click here.
For more information about the Food Bank of NEA, click here.