Back Blast – “County Fair” Blessings in a Backpack for Engelhard Elementary

Over 50 HIMs donated $3,770…providing Blessings in a Backpack to 29 kids for a full school year!
Pelican told me I could write as much as I want in this back blast and since he is the assistant to the regional ComzQ, I believe he has that authority.  I am going to try to be concise, but that is not my strong suit and I am blown away by the generosity of you men.  This thing all started during a discussion with our ShieldLock (Catfish, Pelican, Meter Maid, Backflop, Valdez, and me) over the summer.  The guys had heard me in some earlier discussion talk about Engelhard Elementary and the extreme challenge the kids face.  Right away the wheels started turning (at least in our heads) and we decided to set a fundraising target of $3,250 which covers an entire school year of Blessings in a Backpack for 25 kids…of course we had no idea if that was a good target but we all know the power of F3 Louisville (collectively and the individual HIMs), so we felt good enough to throw it out there to see what we could get. 
This really was the main purpose and the catalyst for what then morphed into “The County Fair” as we had a few planning sessions around a roaring bonfire.  The County Fair CSAUP is going to be bada$$ when we are able to reschedule it.  Meter Maid even has some awesome patches that he finalized during a ShieldLock Zoom meeting (when he was also doing work and paying absolutely no attention to any of us).  These patches will absolutely become F3 collector’s items -> They may have 2020 printed on them even if the CSAUP is in 2021 (they actually may have 2001 on them)…they may or may not be printed with “Country” Fair instead of County Fair…and they definitely have a turkey on them even though that was voted down 5 – 1 (Meter is our VP of patches and really doesn’t care for much input).  Anyway, while we wait for that event and the associated patches, below is a rundown of what you guys have already accomplished…
We have eclipsed the original target with a total of $3,770!  This means we are covering an additional 4 kids for a full school year (29 kids in total).  Over 50 different HIMs contributed and a bunch of you donated an individual amount to cover one kid…just awesome and we can’t thank you enough.  We shared some details about Blessings in a Backpack on Slack throughout the campaign, but as a reminder $130 covers the cost for a single kid to receive food/snacks each Friday to help sustain them over the weekend.  So, you may be thinking…how can $130 cover meals for a full year?  The food they get on Fridays is paltry compared to what most of us would consider sufficient for our kids over a weekend….it is just meant to help get them through.  Which brings me to Engelhard Elementary…
Engelhard is in downtown Louisville and every single student in the school qualifies for free breakfast/lunch and Blessings in a Backpack. These are the kids that get left behind or worse never get a chance to get off the starting line. I had the opportunity to volunteer one Friday last year and meet Regina Jackson-Willis who runs the program at Engelhard and is truly a “saint among us”.  I could never do justice to the stories she told and the passion she has for helping those in need, but I will try to share a few of the striking realities.  The student body at Engelhard is “transient”…many of the kids show up for a few weeks or even a few days and then never again as they move off to stay with another relative, a family friend, or simply drop out of the system for stretches of time.  Regina explains how she keeps shoes, socks, shirts, etc. in her office ready for the everyday occurrences at Engelhard, such as kids showing up at school and taking off their winter coat and not even having a shirt on underneath.  Kids who walk to school with no socks, sometimes no shoes…sometimes they simply need to give them clean clothes because it has been days since they were cleaned.  Regina explained her role to me this way…she is NOT an educator.  These kids cannot focus on being educated before they have the very basics to survive first.  That is where Regina is focused…caring for kids as best she can in whatever ways they need.  I cannot imagine.  I am sure I am like most of you. I worry about my kids all the time…will they do well in a class, are they treating their teachers and friends with respect,  are they staying healthy, will they make the high school basketball team.  We have the luxury of those worries…most of the kids at Engelhard cannot see past the daily struggle to even contemplate what we get to “worry about”.  On the Friday that I volunteered, before the kids started to come through the line, there were some hurried conversations and concerned expressions from some of the staff talking with Regina.  When I asked if all was okay, Regina explained in a rather matter-of-fact way that one of the students had witnessed a shooting on their way into school that morning.  Regina and her team were doing their daily work to help a child in need…helping him to survive the struggle.
We are extremely blessed and it is the sharing of those blessings in all the many ways that each of you do that makes F3 Louisville so special.  The County Fair is just the most recent example, and it is only a small inkling of the impact this group can and will make on our community in the future.

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