The Elves Give Back

The elves here at Christmas Place really do have the spirit of Christmas year round!  Ask, and most will have a story about a special guest who has made an impression on their lives in one way or another.  We are touched and often inspired by those guests who share a bit of their story with us from time to time.  This makes the experience of working for Santa so much richer and more enjoyable for so many.

This year, we have been inspired to be more thoughtful and intentional in passing a bit of that spirit on to the community around us.  We have been adopting a cause each 30 days or so, and putting our resources and talents into giving back to our county.  We’ve even included pets in our efforts – they bring so much joy to the lives of many, so we raised donations of funds and supplies for an area shelter.

Last month, we raised funds for the Food for Kids program sponsored by Second Harvest Food Bank.  Let me quote information about the program we received from Sam Compton, Youth Programs Manager for East Tennessee.

“The Food for Kids program, in so many cases, provides the only food some children will have over an entire weekend, while for others it provides a meal that would otherwise have been skipped. It also offers kids in difficult situations the comfort that comes from knowing there are people out there that truly care about them—something most kids take for granted, but something not all children get to feel. In every school Second Harvest serves, reports of improved self-esteem, behavior, and concentration among Food for Kids participants are common.

“Thanks to coordinated truckload buys with other food banks, “opportunity buy” truckload purchases, and leveraging the buying power of Feeding America (our national affiliate representing 205 food banks across all 50 states) we are able to feed a child every week during the school year for only $60. We feel really good about the program’s impact and efficiency, but we need help to keep it going.

“The food cost alone to offer Food for Kids is $60 per child (with fuel, staff, warehousing, etc., adding additional cost to the food bank that we do not ask sponsors to cover).

“I am so thankful to you (and everyone else you’re working with) for your advocacy for these kids. Please know how invaluable your role is in this process, and that the results of your efforts extend much further than you may realize.”

Simply put, when school is not in session, many kids do not eat.

We are so happy to report that we were able to donate $3,000 – making us the sponsor for an elementary school here in Sevier County for the entire 2013-14 school year!  To know that we are making a real difference in the lives of underserved children who are our neighbors and friends is the best Christmas present we could have this year.

We were invited to visit the Second Harvest facility to present our sponsorship.  They were blessed by another company’s misfortune, and have been enjoying a state-of-the-art warehouse facility for the past two years.  There is even an office for each staff member – rather than having to double- and triple-up in a too-small space, as was the case with their previous location.  Here are pictures from our visit.

What does a ton of beans look like?  Each white “sack” is 2,000 lbs. of pinto beans.  These will be placed into 5-pound bags for redistribution.

Supplies being prepared for a weekend chili cook-off in Knoxville.

On the backpack food aisle – where they strive to provide healthier snacks, such as turkey sticks and whole-grain-based treats.  And chocolate pudding cups.  Chocolate is important for quality of life!

This is a freezer.  It really is.  There is a refrigerator the same size in the next room over.  How do they keep the floor from icing, that’s what we want to know!

 

The program provides a backpack filled with at least 8 food items for each child in need in each home – if they know about siblings, they will also send food for younger children who are not yet in school.

Here is the gang – Miles, Janet, Sam (from Second Harvest), Kelly, and Rhonda.

Second Harvest works with and provides food to other food banks, both in our area and around the nation.  Their purchasing power exponentially increases the impact of the donations they receive.  It was our privilege to tour the beautiful facility, and we look forward to renewing our partnership and commitment for the next school year, too.

Wishing you much joy this Christmas!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place