Community turns out to help hungry children

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published February 5, 2013

 Lakeview students fill food bags with soy, vegetables and rice during a packing event for Kids Against Hunger.

Lakeview students fill food bags with soy, vegetables and rice during a packing event for Kids Against Hunger.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

On an average Saturday, the cafeteria of Lakeview High School is dark and empty, its students and staff enjoying a well-earned weekend off.

But the last Saturday in January was anything but average, with hundreds of volunteers from around the district descending on the high school to do what they could to help hungry children around the world.

Lakeview High School Assistant Principal Heather Huber said groups from across the district, including Harmon Heroes from Harmon Elementary, Kids Who Care at Ardmore Elementary, Patriots with Pride at Jefferson Middle School and Huskies With Heart at the high school came together to raise money and package meals for Kids Against Hunger, a humanitarian food-aid organization.

Community members and organizations like the St. Clair Shores Optimists Club also stepped up to help the cause.

“It was a full K-12 and community project,” Huber said.

Together, the groups raised $5,600, enough to pay for 20,000 meals. Of that number, one-third goes to hungry people in foreign countries, one-third goes to the hungry throughout the country and one-third goes to a local food bank — in this case the pantry at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Grosse Pointe Woods. Fundraising began in October.

“It’s a really easy way for us to make a difference worldwide,” said Lakeview High School senior Casey Blashill, the treasurer of Huskies with Heart and president of the National Honor Society. Both school organizations raised money for the cause. In addition, she said, “We’ll be able to see the impact locally.”

“You see the ads for Africa and realize that it’s not as publicized — that it’s evident locally and this has really drawn attention to that.”

Made of long-grain white rice, vitamin-fortified crushed soy, a dehydrated blend of six vegetables and a chicken-flavored vegetarian vitamin and mineral powder, the meals can be made just by adding 6-10 cups of boiling water and provide easily digestible nutrients needed by a malnourished child’s mind and body. Each bag of food will feed six adults or 12 children.

Patti Blashill, the parent representative for Huskies with Heart and the head of the Kids Against Hunger committee, said even after months of fundraising, the group thought it would only have enough money to provide 10,000 meals. But after bringing the plight to the attention of the community, she said local businesses and residents came out in force to support the cause, helping them to raise “$2,500 just like that.”

“I’m not surprised,” she said. “Kids and parents in Lakeview School District really want to help each other.”

And those giving their Saturday afternoon to help package the meals agreed.

“We’re helping under-privileged kids to get food they need,” said Kortney Hepting, a ninth-grader at the high school. “If you can help people who need it, it’s good.”

Jefferson Middle School seventh-grader Morgan Bean helped pack food with her entire family.

“It’s important because everybody needs food to live,” she said, adding that her National Junior Honor Society had also made blankets to donate to needy children.

“It’s just important to help them survive,” agreed her brother, Greenwood Elementary School fifth-grader Eric Bean. “I do something like this at my church, so I have a little experience.”

Their mother, Dawn Bean, of St. Clair Shores, said the two “like to help out wherever they can.”

Ardmore Elementary School second-grade teacher Julie McHugh also made the day a family affair, bringing her 6-year-old daughter, Gabby, down from Chesterfield Township.

“She’s excited,” McHugh said. “Her two older sisters last year came and told her all about it.”

For more information about Kids Against Hunger, visit www.