“Each year, United Way has a Christmas in July program working with local small businesses, companies, manufacturing plants, retail companies on both raising school supplies and nonperishable food supplies,” said Brenda Morehouse, president of the United Way of Bartow County. “The nonperishable food supplies are really important because a lot of the county and city school children that are on their normal breakfast and lunch programs at school now look to a different means during the summer for food because it’s expensive.
“When you’re used to being able to have your children on a program and let’s say you’ve got two or three in the system and they’re home for two meals a day, five days a week, it can get really stressful on a parent. So the local food pantries, they run really low during the summer months. So we [collect] nonperishable food items and we donate them to our United Way food pantries, which are The Salvation Army, North Bartow Community Services and New Beginnings Food Outreach.”
With the food pantries’ supplies decreasing, the Christmas in July campaign will provide a lifeline of support during the summer months.
“They’re empty,” Morehouse said. “We went a couple of days ago just to drop by The Salvation Army and they’re really low. They’re [almost] empty. North Bartow Community Services, they’ve got some food but not enough that’s well-rounded to give everybody what they need in a bag. They might have an overabundance of canned green beans or canned corn but they’re really lacking on the nonperishable canned meat items, mac and cheese, tuna fish, peanut butter, baby food, that kind of stuff. [Also] cereal is really important to the food pantries during the summer.
“... So they’re really low and donations this year going in were low and we’re contributing it to the fact that we did so much raising for victims during the Adairsville tornado in the beginning of the year that it’s been a little bit of a donor fatigue on food because we had a disaster and we’ve been raising food for these victims since January. ... So the donations seem to be a little bit low for the Christmas in July program.”
Through July 29, the Christmas in July campaign is requesting people donate various nonperishable food items, including peanut butter, macaroni and cheese, tuna fish, canned meats, canned vegetables, canned fruit, cereal, baby food and baby formula.
Along with food, the drive also is collecting school supplies. Area residents are encouraged to donate items at participating collection sites, including The Daily Tribune News, 251 S. Tennessee St., Cartersville; United Way of Bartow County, 140 Douglas St., Suite 104, Cartersville; and WBHF, 7 N. Wall St., Cartersville. To obtain donation boxes, organizations need to call the United Way at 770-386-1677.
Needed school materials include an eight-count box of color pencils, 24-count box of crayons, No. 2 pencils, erasers, safety scissors, book bags, 12-inch ruler with centimeters, glue sticks and hand sanitizer.
The donated school supplies will be distributed during the Bartow Give a Kid a Chance event at Cartersville Civic Center on Aug. 3. In order to receive the free items, such as school supplies and services — haircuts, and dental, vision and hearing screenings — parents will need to register their children online, www.bartowgiveakidachance.com, by July 20. For those who do not have internet access at home, they can sign up online at five locations: Career Center Goodwill of North Georgia, 929 Joe Frank Harris Parkway, Cartersville; Bartow County Public Library System’s Adairsville library, 202 N. Main St., Adairsville; Cartersville library, 429 W. Main St., Cartersville; Emmie Nelson library, 116 Covered Bridge Road, Euharlee; and NorthPointe Church Food Pantry, corner of Joe Frank Harris Parkway and Highway 41.
In 2012, Bartow Give a Kid a Chance — which is supported by various organizations, such as churches, businesses, the Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter and the Christmas in July campaign — served about 1,400 children. This year, the effort’s goal is to equip 2,000 disadvantaged youth entering pre-K through 12th grade.
“We are serving for the last couple of years over 1,400 kids, so there is definitely a reason for the program and there’s definitely a reason for the community to come together like this,” said Tina Grubbs, executive director for Bartow Collaborative. “There are quite a few children who come there specifically for their school supplies, but we also provide the haircut, the dental screenings, the vision and hearing checks.
“So that’s that added extra bonus, because a lot of times this is the only haircut those children get that whole year. Many times their parents are not able to take them to get their vision [checked], so this is that opportunity. So it’s real vital. ... Our goal is [to serve] 2,000. We do know that there is a need [for more than] 2,000 because of our poverty level,” she said, adding “of the 100,157 individuals living in Bartow County, 14.9 percent live in poverty; of those, 4,936 are children. Fifty eight percent of all students living in Bartow County receive free and reduced lunch.”
For more information about Bartow Give a Kid a Chance, call 678-719-2165, visit www.bartowgiveakidachance.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To make a tax-deductible financial contribution, which will help purchase needed items, mail a check to Bartow Give a Kid a Chance, 475 E. Main St., No. 218, Cartersville, GA 30121. Further details on the Christmas in July campaign can be obtained by contacting the United Way at 770-386-1677.