by Cori Hilsgen
Sartell fourth-graders Lila Meyer and Taylor Drexel-Gainsforth and fifth-grader Violet Meyer recently sold lemonade to raise funds for hungry children.
They, along with parents Nicole and Kenny Meyer and Sara and Curt Draxler-Gainsforth, are members of Celebration Lutheran Church in Sartell.
After Lila, Taylor and Violet raised a total of $36.50, Nicole suggested they donate the money to Feeding Area Children Together because she felt this was a way to help provide food to children in the area and the three girls could see how the funds helped other children.
When they dropped their donation off at Celebration Lutheran Church, the Rev. Jeff Sackett thought it was a sweet gesture and informed the congregation about the donation by posting it on Facebook.
Another member, Kent Gehrke, saw the post and offered to match the $36.50 and challenged others who saw the post to do the same. At the time, Gehrke thought it would be great if they could raise $500.
Nobody could have predicted how the fundraiser would continue to grow. Soon, 44 families had accepted the challenge to match the original $35.50.
Celebration Lutheran’s office staff decided to open their own lemonade stand so people who stopped by to drop off their donations could enjoy a glass of lemonade.
On Nov. 14, Lila, Violet and Taylor stood in front of their peers and parents at Celebration Lutheran Church and presented an oversized check in the amount of $2,602 to Feeding Area Children Together volunteer board member Sarah Greenberg-Hassan.
The amount donated is enough to help feed 17 children for an entire school year during days that school is not in session.
“It’s a lot of money,” Lila said.
“Anyone can make a difference, it doesn’t matter your age,” Violet said.
“We never thought it would grow to be this big,” Taylor said.
“I am so proud of these young ladies (who) have inspired so many out of their generosity,” said Aaron Dowzak, director of Youth and Family Ministries-Middle School at Celebration Lutheran Church.
Feeding Area Children Together is dedicated to reducing childhood hunger in central Minnesota through a weekend backpack program, FACT Packs, crisis food shelf, FACT Pantry, and bi-annual, FACT Break Box initiatives.
The organization helps feed local children in St. Cloud school district including Discovery, Madison and North Junior High.
The organization has a waitlist of more than 200 children who struggle with food insecurity and who may not know where their next meal will come from.
Many children rely on the breakfasts and lunches they are fed at school. On weekends and holidays, families often struggle to provide enough food for their children.
Feeding Area Children Together helps provide breakfast, lunch and a snack for each day that children are not in school. Menus are approved by a local pediatrician and contain a variety of fruits, vegetables and proteins to help provide healthy options.
Bags are packed by volunteers during the monthly FACT Pack nights and delivered to schools. Each FACT Pack is discreetly placed in student backpacks by volunteers on Fridays or the last day of school before break.
For more information or to donate to Feeding Area Children Together, contact Suzanne Friedrich Kuehl by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through their Facebook page facebook.com/stcloudfact.