DAVE CLARK: Angels of Action a ‘blessing’ to the community

Angels of Action

Did you accomplish all of your goals in 2011? Still have some work to do?

That’s the difference between the Angels of Action and most of the rest of us. That’s the reason they were chosen the 2011 “Citizens Of The Year.”

Julie Miller, Joni Thompson and Stephanie Woodworth formed the “Angels of Action” nonprofit in April. What started out as a discussion during one of their frequent breakfasts together blossomed into a program that now helps feed 75 children each weekend.

They realized that students who receive free breakfast and lunch during the school week sometimes go without during the weekend. The low-cost food that low income families are able to purchase doesn’t always provide much nutritional value. Kids needed good food to help get them through the weekend. Fundraisers and donations allow the Angels to help provide that food.

Each Friday the ladies visit schools and drop off a two-day supply of food for the children who have been signed up for help.

School administrators put those bags in the students’ lockers, so at the end of the day the kids receive this great surprise. I can imagine the parents of these kids also appreciate the aid, and discretion, the program offers.

I remember meeting Joni at one of the first Poverty Reduction Initiative meetings this year. Joni mentioned that she and her friends were working on what she called the “backpack project” and that they wanted to eventually have the Pioneer write something about the effort.

I asked her questions about the organization and if she thought the group would be able to feed kids at the beginning of this school year. I was skeptical about the timeline for such an ambitious project. Joni wasn’t.

“We will be ready to go,” she said firmly.

It has been a pleasure to see “Backpack Blessings” make an impact on Big Rapids kids this year.

We surprised the ladies with the news that they had been chosen Citizens Of the Year at a second grade classroom at Brookside Elementary School. At least three kids in that class were receiving the backpacks and made it a point to say so and to thank the women for their generosity.

You see, the program doesn’t just provide food, it also delivers a weekly message to these kids that someone who they had never met cares about their future. Someone in their community is pulling for them to grow up strong, smart and successful.

That’s a kind of nourishment no government program can provide. It is the kind of warm, nurturing love that moms seem to specialize in.

Julie, Joni and Stephanie haven’t just transformed themselves into the Angels of Action.

They are helping transform the community, one backpack at a time. Thank you, ladies, for caring so much about our kids.

Dave Clark is editor in chief of the Pioneer. You may e-mail him at dclark@pioneergroup.com.

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