A nonprofit in Nelson and Amherst counties is hoping to get more donations to keep going throughout the 2019-2020 school year.

Nelson Kid Care, a nonprofit backpack program that provides food for students to take home over the weekends, is seeking donations to ensure the program continues and is currently $20,000 short of the program’s budget goal. Kid Care co-director Marion Kanour, a reverend at Grace Episcopal Church in Massies Mill, said the program needs about $40,000 per school year to feed the 250 students in Nelson County Public Schools currently using the program.

“This is something to worry about, yes,” Kanour said.

Kanour said the former director of Nelson Kid Care Mike Tapager died last year, and it was mostly through his efforts and hard work that they were able to secure the needed funding.

“We need to know going into Christmas what we have in terms of going into next year,” Kanour said.

If Nelson Kid Care doesn’t get the money it needs, it won’t be able to continue to provide weekend meals.

“We’ll have to put it on sabbatical if we don’t get to the next school year,” Kanour said.

Kanour said about a third of donations come from churches while the rest come from grants and private donations. This year, they are hoping more area businesses will contribute to the program. In order to ensure every child receives the same standard lunch, Kanour said they don’t accept food donations from individuals.

“We would love to have people provide funding, but people donating food isn’t what we are looking for. Area food stores donating food would be great,” Kanour said.

On Sept. 19, a handful of volunteers from Grace Episcopal Church formed an assembly line and packed the lunches within about 15 minutes. For Jeanne Irving, a Roseland resident, this is her second year volunteering.

“My life is blessed and I want to give back,” Irving said. “Not everyone is so fortunate.”

Anke Goetz, an Arrington resident who has been volunteering for three years, echoed Irving’s thoughts, saying that was the reason most people volunteered to help ensure children had enough to eat in Nelson.

The one shift of volunteers are from Grace Episcopal Church and put together the lunches for the high school and middle school. Another shift of volunteers from Trinity Episcopal Church put together the bags for Tye River Elementary and volunteers at Rockfish Presbyterian Church pack the meals for Rockfish River Elementary. Nelson Kid Care currently has around 150 volunteers getting together every two weeks.

Nelson Kid Care began in 2011 when it was initiated at Tye River Elementary School. In 2012, Rockfish River Elementary School and the high school were included. In 2013, the program began serving those at the middle school as well.

The operations in Nelson and Amherst operate under one 501c(3), but each locality focuses on its own students. In Amherst, the program is called Amherst Cares. Both focus on ensuring students have plenty to eat during the weekends.

Parents or guardians can sign their kids up through forms teachers have in the schools. Teachers then put the weekend meals into the kids’ backpacks while the kids aren’t around so that no one is singled out.

“It’s all anonymous to us. We don’t know who’s getting food,” Kanour said.

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Erin Conway covers Nelson County for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5524.

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