Greenville Community dinner to help those who go without

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 5:01 pm on Friday, December 23, 2011

GREENVILLE — Opportunities for Success is offering a community dinner for those who go without during the holiday season.

The Community Dinner will take place from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 28 at the Greenville High School Cafeteria.

“Greenville Public Schools (GPS) will once again offer a community meal during the holiday school break for families that could use a warm meal while school is off for the holidays,” said Linda Van Houten, director of Student Services at GPS.

There are over 100 students that are homeless so far this year and rely on the schools to provide meals for their children during school days, Van Houten said. This number does not include families that have housing but cannot afford three meals a day for their families.

Last year, Van Houten said the dinner served about 50 families, but this year they hope to serve 100 families.

“We recognize now, perhaps more than ever, the importance of coming together as a community to lift each other up,” said Pete Haines, GPS superintendent.
She said when school is not in session it is a hardship to these families.

Van Houten said the group has learned the need continues to grow and families really do depend on the schools to help provide meals for the children.

“We sometimes forget that sometimes the meals the students get at school, are the only meals these kids get in a day,” Van Houten said. “It s hard to think that families are faced with this type of situation in Greenville.

The Greenville Transit will be providing free transportation for any family that needs it and bags of groceries will also be given out to the families.

“It is open to anyone that could use a warm meal,” Van Houten said of the dinner.

Opportunities for Success is partnering with the Our Lady of Consolation Church in Rockford and some departments at Amway to help provide the food and groceries, Van Houten said.

“We have an amazing school staff that always step up to the challenge,” she said. “I am over whelmed by the generous support we get from the GPS staff and the community.”

People wanting to donate to the dinner can do so by donating money to help provide the ham and potatoes for the meal. The money could also be collected for food or Goodwill gift cards.

Food can also be donated because there is always a need.

“Last year, we also kept some soup and single meal items out to give to our high-school students that comes in during the school day and said they do not have food in their home for dinner,” Van Houten said.

Clothing and hygiene care items are greatly appreciated. Van Houten said a list of items that are always needed include deodorant, shampoo, tooth brush, toothpaste, coats, hats, mittens, hooded sweatshirts, jeans and more.

Van Houten said the students age from preschool through high school so all sizes are always needed.

“The need for food, clothing and health care continues to be a significant issue for many of our families,” She said. “We are trying to find ways to continue to support these families and most importantly the students.”

Haines said that Greenville schools belong to the entire community and this event allows the school to celebrate and magnify their generosity.

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