Volunteers work to feed kids in need during summer


TRAVERSE CITY (WPBN/WGTU) -- Each year kids throughout northern Michigan have to wonder where their next meal is coming from.

A group of volunteers at the Elks Lodge in Traverse City is working to help fix that problem.

For the last five years, the lodge has been running the CARE PACK 4 KIDS program during the school year.

Each week, volunteers meet at the Elks Lodge and fill up 50 bags with easy-to-prepare foods. Then they discreetly pass them out to 50 students from Traverse Heights Elementary School.

This year they were able to extend the program into the summer.

"It just provides the extra that they need for the weekend or right now for the summer," said CARE PACK 4 KIDS Chair Cathy Cook.
"There is a lot of children in our own backyard that probably go to bed hungry at night," said CARE PACK 4 KIDS Volunteer Katrina Huffman. "I felt that this was a great program that the elks provides to children."

In order for the program to continue to provide to children, it needs donations and grants.

Most recently, it received $10,000 when the National Elks Foundation awarded them the Impact Grant.

"If we didn't have the grants we would not have been able to provide meals for the kids during the summer," said Cook.
"Kathy and her crew are amazing," said Joan Rowland with the Traverse City Elks Lodge. "They turn out every week all year long to do this for these kids and we know that they are appreciated."

But it seems everyone seems to agree that the best part of this program is getting to see the difference it can make.

"It's just so gratifying to see the kids smile when you drop off the tubs of food," said Cook.
"They send us notes on Christmas and thank us," said Huffman. "That's just the icing on the cake for us as volunteers."

Cook said this summer they were able to deliver more than 500 meals to kids in need.

She also said they plan to apply for the Impact Grant next year so they can provide these meals next summer too.

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