Faith Alliance feeds hundreds of hungry Lakota children

Bailey Plummer, a Summer Lunch Literacy intern from Bowling Green University, creates a teaching moment with teacher, Cynthia Shropshire s students, at their Cincinnati Zoo field trip.

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Bailey Plummer, a Summer Lunch Literacy intern from Bowling Green University, creates a teaching moment with teacher, Cynthia Shropshire s students, at their Cincinnati Zoo field trip.

The Faith Alliance spent the summer feeding, mentoring and preparing low-income children in the Lakota school district for back-to-school.

Many children could have gone hungry over the summer but volunteers from 22 churches, 26 schools, three companies and three non-profits helped serve 13,533 meals to almost 300 children throughout the summer. Sue Mahlock, director of outreach for the Faith Alliance, said for the second year the Lakota schools child nutrition program — using funds from a federal grant — prepared and brought the hot meals to the neighborhoods where the needy children live.

“For the past two years the Lakota Child Nutrition Department has gotten involved in actually providing the food part, so now our churches are not burdened with paying for all the food and making all the food,” Mahlock said. “We concentrate on the relationships now and the mentoring.”

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The Faith Alliance, with the help of two Lakota teachers, also ran a literacy program for 29 first and second graders. She said they identify kids who are danger of not meeting the third grade reading requirements and offer them the free program. Mahlock said there were probably 500 volunteers from all walks of the community who helped with the summer programs the Faith Alliance runs.

The Faith Alliance has also joined the Reach Out Lakota effort to provide needy children with the tools — backpacks and supplies — they need to succeed in school. She said there were some churches already supporting the back-to-school program but they were sometimes getting too much of one thing and not enough of another, so they organized the church effort.

Sue Cheney and Andrea Subler, who coordinate Reach Out Lakota’s program said the Faith Alliance has been a Godsend.

MORE: How the Faith Alliance of Liberty and West Chester got its start

“Through our partnership with the Faith Alliance we have been able to completely fill the school supply needs of over 450 students this year,” Cheney said. “By our estimation, the Faith Alliance provided 90 percent of the donations that were distributed helping to ensure that all children in our community receive the tools they need to have a successful school year.”

Mahlock said the Faith Alliance started with a network of churches in Liberty and West Chester townships, but has grown to be so much more.

“It’s really neat, it’s really blossomed it’s not just a church ministry now,” Mahlock said. “It started out as one but now it’s really a whole community outreach. It’s very, very cool.”

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