For those of us that don’t know last year was the 7th annual Back to School with Hope project.  The mission of this project is to serve the children in our school system, which are homeless, living in cars, shelters or on the street.  Many are in great need for the basics so with this project, they can begin the 1st day of school on an even playing field.  Pam Hawn is the CEO and the person that started Hope.
Last year 11 area churches participated in this day. What happens is one or two churches will do one week and so on and it will be finished before school starts.
Kiwanis has helped in the past at different churches and last year was the first year to help at the Sarasota Baptist Church, and this year we are at the Sarasota Baptist Church. 
This project is for children in need.  The children receive a registration form, they mark what they need, and they get to pick a time to arrive.  Everything is confidential and the Church works in partnership with Hope Kids. 
This year the Church will be in partnership with Lakeview Elementary and Fruitville Elementary and up to 175 children will be there.  This number does not include parents and siblings.
The program is broken down into different rooms and areas.  Each child will be able to have haircuts, see a dentist and doctor, have back to school pictures and family pictures taken, a back pack filled with school supplies, a gift card from Payless for school shoes and an Old Navy gift card for school clothes.  There will also be a prayer room and activities room.  A Church member has donated jeans for all of the children; another Church member has donated quilts for all.  They will also receive a bag of non-perishable food and there will be a sno-cone truck when they leave. The Fire Department will be there showing and talking about fire safety at home and school, and the Police/Sheriff’s Department will be there offering fingerprinting.
A Church member has donated all the food for the volunteer’s bag lunches and there are about 300 volunteers.
The Salvation Army donated the lunch food and Der Dutchman donated the breakfast food for the families, which includes the children, parents, and siblings.
This was my first year to help.  I went to the Church on Friday and helped Linda set up lots of things.  There were post-it notes everywhere in the kitchen and dining area.  We (Linda, her three grandchildren and I) stuffed 247 bag lunches.  We would have had 250, but we had a few OOPs with the bread.  It’s not like home with the 5 second rule.  However, we got it all done.
Saturday morning went back to church around 7:30am.  People were already there running around getting the last minute things done.  Finally, at 9 am we were ready.  I worked in the serving line with three other ladies, one of them being Marianna.  They may never let the four of us back in the kitchen again.  We were told we needed to take our act on the road and get embellished hairnets.  They were calling us the “Lunch Room Ladies”.
Not only did we have fun, we got to feed the kids.  Some were so shy; mom or dad had to tell us when they wanted to eat.  Your heart goes out to all of them. 
The Kiwanis family and family members volunteering this year are: Linda Prenosil, who is our leader for this project, Bill Irish who is our co-leader, Linda Irish, Candy Anderson, Dana Anderson, Mia Anderson, Mary Lynn Desjarlais, Doug Griffin, Joy Horne Jones, Carman Ramsey, Elisabeth Saxon, Marianna Ehmke, Leaf Wanless, Ange Wanless, and Neil Delorenzo.
Big thank you to Linda Prenosil for putting all her effort for this project and to all the volunteers that help make this project work.