After sledding, consider helping families who struggle on snow days, every day
Posted February 24, 2015
I'm lucky. My kids are lucky. For us, a snow day means a day off from the normal hustle and bustle of daily life.
Instead of an after-school schedule that had me traipsing across Raleigh from piano lesson to soccer practice to basketball team celebration, we'll likely be tucked inside our cozy home after a day of sledding and hot chocolate. Maybe we'll have a movie night complete with homemade pizza.
I work from home, making it easy to knock out some of my responsibilities while the kids rotate among neighborhood houses. My husband also can get work done from the kitchen table.
But snow days aren't so much fun for a lot of kids around here.
In a blog post on the Food Bank of Eastern and Central North Carolina's website, Earline E. Middleton, the vice president of agency services and programs, reminds us that the hot chocolate isn't free flowing for many kids. In fact, kids who rely on free school lunches and programs that provide them with food over the weekend may be struggling to find enough food in their kitchen cupboards for basic meals.
"Many programs aimed at feeding children in need are tightly intertwined if not directly connected with school," Middleton wrote last week after most school systems were closed for four days. "When schools close due to weather conditions, thousands of children in our service area go without breakfast and lunch. In our Raleigh, Durham, and Sandhills communities, many schools have been closed all week long, leaving hundreds of thousands of kids without the school meals they depend on for five days straight. And because many schools were still closed on Friday, thousands more in these areas will not receive their Weekend Power Pack filled with extra meals to get them through Saturday and Sunday."
What's more, the food bank has its own challenges as drivers can't drop off food to agencies that it works with or pick up leftover food from stores, she wrote. Volunteers can't drive in to distribute the food.
"And for the people we serve, the challenges are even greater," Middleton wrote. "Families struggle to pay for extra childcare, higher heating bills, and put more food on the table. Closed businesses may result in lost wages for workers, making their paychecks even smaller. People without a permanent residence must try to find an open bed at a nearby shelter and protect themselves from harsh conditions."
So, after all of the sledding and hot chocolate and cookies and fun today, here's an indoor activity. While we might not be able to help the kids who are struggling today, we can help them tomorrow and the days after that.
If you're looking for something to keep the kids occupied, why not collect canned goods or other items today to donate once the roads clear. Get all of the neighborhood kids together to collect items from their pantries.
Here are places that could use your donations:
The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina's most needed items include canned fruits, vegetables, meat and soup, whole grain pasta, brown rice, dried beans, cereal, peanut butter, and items such as fruit cups, juice boxes, granola bars, crackers and popcorn for kids. Items such as formula, infant cereal, diapers and wipes also are needed.
Inter-Faith Food Shuttle's Backpack Buddies program provides needy kids with backpacks full of food for them to take home over the weekend. The program collects items such as canned meats and stews; tuna fish packets; breakfast items; packaged noodles; and healthy snacks.
WAKE Up and Read is in the midst of its big campaign to gather books to donate to kids who don't have many at home. The goal is to collect 100,000 books in February. Go through your shelves and find those that your kids have outgrown.
Book Harvest in Durham also collects books for kids who don't have many.
The Green Chair Project in Raleigh, a great organization which I'll have much more about soon, has been working to donate 10 to 15 beds a month for children in Wake County who have no bed to sleep on. They could use gently used twin bed sheet sets, especially in patterns and colors that children would like. I just cleared out a closet in my house of three sets with Dora, Hello Kitty and Tinker Bell. They would love more.
Finally, these kids aren't in school yet, but they could use your help. The Diaper Bank of North Carolina, based in Durham, always needs diapers.