By Debby Woodin
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Computer users who want to help two area organizations that serve children win $20,000 to feed the youngsters can help by clicking on a Facebook contest sponsored by Wal-Mart.
The Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri in Joplin and the About Our Kids organization in Lamar are in the running for the grants through a program Wal-Mart is offering called Fighting Hunger Together.
“We are partnering with Ozarks Food Harvest; they actually nominated us,” said Casey Himmelsbach, development director for the Boys & Girls Club. “They supply 50 percent of the food we use. If we won $20,000 to feed our kids through the summer, this would be huge. We receive no assistance for feeding our kids two hot meals a day through the summer.
“People can vote, vote, vote every day” to help the club try to win, she said.
Wal-Mart is using the social media campaign to give out 100 grants totaling $3 million for programs that feed people. A total of 178 agencies and programs are nominated. Wal-Mart will give the grants to the 60 of those that receive the most votes. In addition, 133 food banks are nominated for 40 awards of $45,000.
“We chose to nominate two of our children’s feeding sites, the Joplin Boys & Girls Club and Lamar’s AOK, because both have critical needs,” Denise Gibson, development director for Ozarks Food Harvest, said in a statement. “The Wal-Mart grant would go a long way to ensure that children in the Ozarks have access to the food they need to thrive.”
Children who attend the AOK after-school program at Nathan’s Place in Lamar are involved in educational activities and are provided meals, said Jerod Morey, executive director.
“We serve 35 (children) per evening a dinner meal and a snack,” Morey said. “These are nutritious, well-balanced meals free of charge. We also have programming which begins at 2:45 p.m. to 6 p.m. The program focuses on preventative education on obesity, alcohol and drug abuse, and we have service learning projects. We take a holistic approach to the needs of our youth.”
Morey said people can obtain information about the organization and also can vote in the contest at www.AOKyouth.org.
All the organizations can be found at www.facebook.com/walmart. People may click on the “Fighting Hunger” logo and put in the organization’s name or ZIP code to vote. Votes can be cast daily until April 30.
OZARKS FOOD HARVEST supplies 250 nonprofit agencies in 28 Southwest Missouri counties.