Scanning my must-have shot list from Allstate, my eyes stopped on the VIP guest of the event--TIM TEBOW!! How can that be??!! This is the football player that I walk past everyday on my way to work at the University of Florida. His bronze statue, along with Steve Spurrier and Danny Wuerffel, stands in front of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. I watched so many people pose in front of these statues while their families and friends take a picture to commemorate. Even my own kids have posed in front of these statues! I couldn’t believe that I will finally meet him in person let alone taking his pictures.
When Allstate reached out to me about taking pictures of their event with Food4Kids Backpack Program I couldn’t be more thrilled. I’ve heard about this similar program through the JOY FM, a Christian radio station that I listened to. The program recognizes that there are children who will go hungry on the weekend when there is no school. To combat that, volunteers will pack backpacks with food for students to take home for the weekend so they can have something to eat. This brought back so much memories for me when we first came to America. Our family relied heavily on food banks and food stamp for our food needs. In the summer, while my parents were working, I would take my younger brothers to the Summer Food Program at a nearby school for a free lunch. Then afterward we go to the Boys and Girls Club to play. I didn’t know it then, but I lived in a mile-long stretch zone that’s considered “an epicenter for warring gangs”, or as my co-worker called it “the worst street to live in Washington”.
The founder of the program, Jennifer Moore, shared with the volunteers how the Food4Kids program got started in Gainesville. One Monday, she brought in some pizzas for her daughter’s birthday party at school. While watching everyone, she noticed that as most kids were finishing their first slice of pizza, a few were already asking for seconds and thirds. She asked the teacher about these children and learned that there was a good chance that the last full meal they had was lunch on Friday. Shocked that this was happening in her own little community in Gainesville, she started doing her research and found out that 1 in 4 kids in North Florida lives in food un-stable homes—where they lack reliable access to food and other resources, especially on the weekend and that was how Food4Kids Program was born in 2010.
With Tim Tebow, Allstate employees, and UF athletic coaches, these volunteers sorted through tons of donated food in their warehouse, to be dispersed throughout schools in North Florida. Though it seems that there were plenty of food, the needs are ongoing as students take these backpack homes every weekend.
I was grateful that Tim Tebow came--that each and everyone of the volunteers came. There were many members of the press present; I hope that they were all impacted by the event and that they will spread the news and bring awareness to this need in their community.