CULLMAN, Ala. – After success last year in what was a spur-of-the-moment drive to meet an immediate need in the Cullman Caring for Kids (CCK) food pantry at the end of the last school year, Josh Campbell and Citizens Bank & Trust are ready to do it again- this time even bigger and better. This year’s bank-sponsored Kids Caring for Kids project, to be held March 11-15, is taking a proactive approach to stocking CCK’s shelves ahead of the increased run on CCK’s supplies that typically happens as weather warms up, and especially in the summer. The drive takes the form of a contest for all area elementary schools, pitting class against class–across school lines and within the same school–to see who can come up with the most cereal for Cullman County’s needy kids.
The bank could just give money and encourage others to do so, but Campbell explained that he wanted area school kids to experience something more, saying, “There are so many options to come up with cereal. We can take the donation of money and go and buy more cereal, or give someone an opportunity to participate in the giving.”
Campbell went on to share, “That’s part of education that you don’t find on a standardized test, you know? I used to teach, and the standardized testing has got its place, but there’s a whole other branch of learning out there with stuff like this, where these kids’ brains are opened up to the fact that they’ve probably got somebody in their classroom who goes to Cullman Caring for Kids, that needs Cullman Caring for Kids and what they do, and not just for the food bank: for all the other ways that Cullman Caring for Kids helps children in this community.”
Cereal is a year-round staple for CCK, which gives away up to 650 boxes per month.
CCK Director Javon Daniel explained, “It’s a nutritious way for kids to have a breakfast without it having to be cooked. It’s at least a good start for the day: oatmeal in the winter time; they need a hot meal to get them started; in summer time, a bowl of cereal goes a long way. If you’ve got a cranky child at 10 at night, you know, give them a bowl of cereal and they’ll go on to sleep. So cereal, it’s just a good thing.
“I eat a bowl of cereal, not every morning, but most mornings. It’s a quick thing, and it’s an easy thing, and it alleviates that hungry child. That child eats a bowl of cereal, doesn’t go to school hungry. He may not be full, but he doesn’t go to school hungry.”
Cereal may be needed all the time, but the need is even greater in the summer months when kids are out of school. Children who qualified for free or reduced meals at school are left without that resource for months. Even the federal feeding program, designed to help fill that gap through hot meals served at various locations around the county, has its limitations.
Campbell shared, “Kids can’t drive, either, you know what I mean? So, if somebody doesn’t take them to the school for those programs, then they’ve got to have something to eat. And at Cullman Caring for Kids, their food pantry, they really fill a void there that’s left, especially over the summer.”
Participating schools compete for prizes
Last year’s drive, started in response to an emergency shortage at the end of the school year, only saw six schools participate. This year, thanks to the bank’s ability to pre-plan the drive, several other schools have already signed on to the project weeks ahead of time. Obviously, the goal is to serve CCK’s client kids, but the students have the added incentive of pizza parties for the three classes that give the largest ratio of cereal. By competing based on a ratio of class size to amount of donated cereal, even small classes and small schools have a fair shot at the yummy prizes.
As of Tuesday, Feb. 26, the following schools have committed to participate:
Cold Springs Elementary
East Elementary, Cullman
Holly Pond Elementary
Sacred Heart School
Vinemont Christian Academy elementary classes
West Elementary, Cullman
West Point Elementary
Daniel had glowing words to say about the bank’s partnership with CCK: “Josh Campbell, Alan Wood, all the folks down at Citizens Bank, have been so super. They have been so supportive of us since they came in. And Josh Campbell from the bank is on our board of directors: very, very tremendous asset for us.
“And this is the second year. There are more schools involved this year, so we’re excited. You know, we’re excited that we may have to hunt a place to put cereal, and that’s okay; that’s a good problem! But Citizens Bank has been tremendous to help us since they came into Cullman.”
If you have a child in one of the schools listed above, please send cereal to their classes. If your school is not listed and you would like to get on board, contact Josh Campbell at 256-736-3222.
Donations of food, baby food, diapers and hygiene products can be made at the CCK office located at 402 Arnold St. NE #W1 in Cullman.
CCK, a United Way of Cullman County partner agency, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. You can make online PayPal contributions to CCK through its website, www.cullmancaringforkids.com, or send donations to: Cullman Caring for Kids, PO Box 698, Cullman, AL 35056.
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