Community partner supports CIS backpack program

May. 16, 2014 @ 02:54 PM

Feeding hungry children is a year-long endeavor for Communities In Schools of Thomasville.
When summer vacation starts, the CIS of Thomasville weekend backpack program doesn't end. The nonprofit continues supplying dozens of students at Liberty Drive Elementary School with backpacks full of food every weekend during the summer, knowing it could be the only source of meals for many of the children.
“With us, we don't just do it during the school year, we do it all year,” said Judy Younts, executive director of CIS of Thomasville. “If the children are hungry during the school year, they're hungry during the summer.”
Keller Williams Realty on Tuesday continued its commitment to helping CIS of Thomasville combat childhood hunger. Realtors Deb Saintsing, Earla Clark, Jenny Brewer and Mike Washburn dropped off a van full of food at Liberty Drive and presented Younts with a $500 check as part of Keller Williams Realty's ongoing effort to be a community partner.
Clark, a Thomasville resident, said Keller Williams Realty heard about the backpack program and the need CIS of Thomasville had for community partners in 2012 and immediately wanted to help. Over the past two years, Keller Williams Realty has made the program one of its ongoing projects and continues to support CIS of Thomasville in multiple ways.
“Several times throughout the year we collect food and donations and drop them off at the city schools,” Clark said. “Judy told us how many children were in need and how much of an impact the program has. We knew how many children we're able to help by just giving a little money or a couple boxes of food. It's very humbling.”
Liberty Drive currently has 60 children enrolled in the backpack program, and Younts said the number easily could be higher if more funds were available.
“If we had the resources we could double that,” said Younts. “It's not unusual at all for our CIS teacher over there to get a note from a parent or child asking how to get involved. Sometimes the children will tell her they didn't have anything to eat last night or they ate a box of cereal all weekend. If that doesn't touch you nothing will.”
CIS of Thomasville during the summer comes back to Liberty Drive and fills the backpacks every week. While Tuesday's donation appeared to be a lot, food supplies generally don't last very long.
“Food is not something that can continue on,” said Younts. “Once it's used it's gone, and [Keller Williams Realty] certainly sees that as being a real issue for us and our children.”
Having community partners, Younts said, is vital to the program.
“It's major,” said Younts. “If just one business, one civic group or one person wants to make a difference, it can happen. One or more, it all comes together to serve so many. It's invaluable that our children see a community that cares about them. My hope is that a child who grows up in a community that he sees cares about him will in turn go back and teach his children that. We can't always change where we've been but we can sure change where we're going.”
Donating money allows CIS of Thomasville to purchase food in bulk at Second Harvest Food Bank in Winston-Salem.
“They can make that cash donation go much farther than our food donation, but we've done a combination of the two,” Clark said.
Keller Williams Realty, which is based in Kernersville with an office High Point, has expanded its efforts to also include donating gently used clothes.
For more information about the CIS of Thomasville backpack program, contact Younts at 474-4233.

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or