Clarion Area Friendship Bags Help Meet a Real Need: Student Hunger
Members of the Clarion Area School District meeting on Tuesday night heard a report on the Friendship Bag program from Superintendent Joe Carrico and Matt Lerch, executive director of the Clarion office of Janney, Montgomery, Scott LLC.
“We view student hunger as a real need,” said Carrico. “A lot of it is tied to poverty rates, transitional living, and homelessness. Food is a base need for security. As any school district’s numbers increase, they’re going to see more and more of this need. If you look at the poverty rates of area school districts, it’s a significant need. The food doesn’t go wasted.
“The great thing about it is the community support in raising this and just the compassion and kindness for these kids. They’ll go home on the weekends, and we just don’t know. It’s nice for the kids to know that there is a space and walk into school and grab a friendship bag with whatever they need for the weekend. Janney has a program for our school district. It’s a great program that helps our kiddos with food for nights and weekends.”
Lerch first learned about friendship bags at a Rotary presentation where C-L presented and discussed the need for friendship bags over the weekend. When Laura Burford took over the Clarion Area, Lerch and company learned more when Burford worked in conjunction with the Trinity Point Church of God to gather the food for Clarion Area.
‘As a company, we asked how we can help out the other county schools, as well, in addition to Clarion and C-L,” said Lerch. “We opened it up to our client base, and we sent out mailers and made sure they were aware of the need of Clarion County schools and that this is a real problem.”
Last year a little over $1,200.00 was raise for all of the schools.
“If someone wanted to give a check to North Clarion it would go directly to the church working with North Clarion; or whatever is your school of choice. Also, we had different months. We started this year alphabetically—last month was A-C Valley, and we collected food for AC Valley. This month is the Clarion Area School District.
“I know we’re halfway through the month, but we’re trying to figure out how we can reinvigorate the program to increase exposure for Clarion Area as much as possible. Superintendent Carrico is communicating with not just to the staff but also parents of the need for kids on the weekend.”
So far in July, there have been about $225.00 in checks come in for Clarion Area. While it has been a good program, Lerch feels it has been a little harder to emphasize it because school is not in session.
“Anyone can give to Clarion Area through the Trinity Point Church of God and just put it on the memo section of the check for Clarion Area Friendship Bags,” Lerch said. “This is the month that we’re collecting, and we’ve been in preliminary discussion with the YMCA to have a box at the YMCA as well for rotating schools, and it would go that month’s specific school. Checks, of course, can be given at any time to any specific school district.”
Checks for Clarion Area can be sent to the Trinity Point Church of God to the attention of Laura Burford.
- For the A-C Valley School District, make checks payable to Allegheny–Clarion Valley School District.
- For the Clarion Area School District, make checks payable to Trinity Point Church of God.
- For the Keystone School District, make checks payable to the Keystone Elementary Activity Fund.
- For the North Clarion School District, make checks payable to the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church or Faith Lutheran Church.
- For the Redbank Valley School District, make checks payable to the Oakland Church of God
- For the Union School District make checks payable to the Blessing Kids Project.
The wishlist for non-cash donations includes the following: applesauce, granola bars, macaroni and cheese, fruit cups, juice boxes, peanut butter crackers, graham crackers, cereal/oatmeal, and ravioli/spaghetti. All items should be individual servings, microwavable, easy to open, and glass-free.
- New drop off and pick up plan.
“We’re working on a pickup and drop off plan for the high school and elementary school,” said Carrico. “With the combined runs, everybody seems to get there at the same time. What we noticed was the kids and families were walking through the buses and cars. We’re working on a plan where we can address that, and we will present it to you guys at the August 13 meeting, and we’ll get letters out to the families and let them know.
- Mostly good State Budget.
Braxton White, the legislative representative, reported. “There was a state budget approved on time, and that’s two years in a row. We didn’t get all of the education money we wanted. They did give more money to private education, funding two forms of education. It was mostly good.”
- Elementary School Parking Lot
Mike Fagley, the supervisor of buildings and grounds, said he was not happy with the paving contracted at the elementary school and concerned about some of the quality of work. “I was trying to get action so we could make the final payment. They came last week and resealed and restriped the entire parking lot at their expense.”
- Members attending included President Hugh Henry, Melissa Anderson, Julie Hartley, Todd Bauer, Dave Estadt, Shane Kriebel, Julie McCormick, Zachary Shekell. and Braxton White.
- Next meeting: August 13 at 7:00 p.m.
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