Christmas in July organizes early to meet pressing needs
by Marie Nesmith
Jun 06, 2014 | 1085 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kicking off June 15, the Christmas in July campaign will help equip students through the Bartow Give a Kid a Chance offering and replenish the shelves at three area food pantries. Organized by the United Way of Bartow County in partnership with Bartow Collaborative, the drive is seeking businesses to serve as public collection sites for nonperishable food items and school supplies.

“With the demand in food for the food pantries with the schools being out and children not being able to get their normal breakfast and lunch programs, we’re hoping to start a little bit early this year,” said Brenda Morehouse, president of the United Way of Bartow County. “We’ve got two really big needs this year with the Christmas in July program ... food for the food pantries but also for school supplies.

“This year, we’re, of course, as always teaming up with Tina Grubbs and her team at Bartow Collaborative and working with local businesses on raising school supplies through United Way’s Christmas in July program to donate to their program, [Bartow Give a Kid a Chance], so that we can [provide] a full bag with every type of supply that somebody would need to get the school year started off right.”

To help bolster the food pantry supplies at New Beginnings Food Outreach, North Bartow Community Services and The Salvation Army, Christmas in July will collect nonperishable food items until the 2014-2015 school year begins in August. Some examples of needed materials include peanut butter, macaroni and cheese, tuna fish, canned meats, canned vegetables, canned fruit, cereal, baby food and baby formula.

“Each year, United Way has their annual allocations visits where we go and visit the agencies that we fund each year and talk about the things that they did and share stories of success,” Morehouse said. “We visited North Bartow Community Services and we visited Salvation Army and we visited New Beginnings Food Outreach and the food pantries are so low already.

“There have been some food drives around town that have donated and they’re already through the food. ... [Many children] are out of school right now that are depending on those food pantries to make up the difference,” she said, referring to children who partake in the free and reduced meal programs during the school year.

Morehouse also encourages businesses to conduct fundraisers and donate financially to the Christmas in July campaign, which would enable the local United Way to purchase food through the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

Along with food, the drive also will collect school supplies, such as an eight-count box of color pencils, 24-count box of crayons, No. 2 pencils, erasers, safety scissors, book bags, 12-inch ruler with centimeters, glue sticks, hand sanitizer, 2 1/2-inch three ring binders and jump drives.

The donated school supplies will be distributed during the Bartow Give a Kid a Chance event at Bartow County College and Career Academy, 738 Grassdale Road in Cartersville, July 26. In order to receive the free items, such as school supplies and services — haircuts and health screenings — parents will need to register their children online, www.bartowgiveakidachance.com, by July 12.

According to www.bartowgiveakidachance.com, “Just before the start of the 2013 school year, hundreds of volunteers served the children of Bartow County through Bartow Give a Kid a Chance (GAKAC). Children in need received dental, hearing, and vision screenings along with haircuts, backpacks, school supplies, a pair of pants, and a shirt; all for free thanks to the generous donations of the people of our community. The event helped children in Bartow County start off on the right foot last August.

“In 2013, 2,000 at-risk children in Bartow County were served; our goal for 2014 is to serve 2,000. It is hard to imagine that we have so many children in need in our own county. In order to completely meet this need in our county we are asking our businesses and churches to donate time, money and supplies to the at-risk children of our community. This event is a joint effort between the Bartow Collaborative, the United Way, the Department of Labor Employer Committee, the Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter, local businesses, and churches of different denominations.”

For more information about Bartow Give a Kid a Chance, call 678-719-2165, visit www.bartowgiveakidachance.com or email bartowgiveakidachance@gmail.com. To make a financial contribution to Bartow Give a Kid a Chance, mail a check to Bartow Collaborative Inc., 475 E. Main St., No. 218, Cartersville, GA 30121. Further details on the Christmas in July campaign can be obtained by contacting the United Way at 770-386-1677.