Kids Aid Colorado helps hungry students in Grand Valley
WHAT: Kids Aid 5K Trail Trot
WHEN: Oct. 18, 9 a.m.
WHERE: Wingate Elementary School (351 S. Camp Road, Grand Junction)
COST: Ages 18 and under, $15; ages 19 and older, $30
In 2003, Grand Junction resident Mike Berry and his wife, Deb, walked their daughter to her first-grade classroom. As they headed back through the playground, a girl ran up to them crying, claiming she was cold and hungry.
It was that experience that spurred Berry to found Kids Aid Colorado in 2008. The Grand Valley nonprofit aims to end childhood hunger and provide for children countywide through weekend food programs.
“Kids that would be going hungry on the weekends are being fed, which leads to better students and better citizens,” Berry said.
And what started as a project out of Berry’s garage assembling 10 bags at a time has now grown to more than 130 volunteers packing 2,000 bags for 30 weeks out of a warehouse donated by Amitech. Sacks of food include fruit cups, oatmeal, macaroni and cheese, granola bars and more. Kids Aid also recently hired its first paid employee, plus it hosts fundraisers and even an annual 5K run.
Students in Mesa County District 51 discreetly receive bags on Fridays. The free program is open to elementary through high school students and no one is denied.
Currently, the backpack program serves around nine percent of Mesa County’s student population, Berry noted, adding that almost 41 percent of District 51 students are on free or reduced lunch programs.
According to Berry, Kids Aid Colorado’s annual budget, including a summer program, totals around $270,000. For every dollar donated, 93 cents goes towards the food and bags. Food is purchased through Food Bank of the Rockies with funds raised by donors. Each bag costs about $4 and amounts to roughly $8,000 a week.
“This organization fills a need no other organization can or is filling at the time,” Kids Aid Colorado’s executive director Mary Beth Luedtke said. “Berry is so compassionate about the mission, supportive, and involved in every level.”
MORE ABOUT THE FOUNDER
Berry has called the Grand Valley home since 1980. He married his wife 40 years ago and has two kids and one grandson. He enjoys golf, attending concerts, hiking and playing with his grandson. While not tending to Kids Aid Colorado, he is a full-time certified financial planner with Legacy Wealth Management.
Want to volunteer? Contact Luedtke at 970-712-2847. For more information, visit http://www.kidsaidcolorado.org.
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