Over the last 5 years, the Martha’s Vineyard Teddy Bear Suite has raised over $50,000 for the Martha’s Vineyard Boys & Girls Club’s After School Program – a vital resource for Island families.
Of course this program continues to be important to so many children, but this year we are working to raise $30,000 for the Club’s new initiative, Happy Healthy Kids (H2K). Happy Healthy Kids, which just started a couple of weeks ago, provides children who attend the after school program, FREE snack.
Well, I don’t know if I would call it snack anymore, since it’s more of a meal. The new executive director, Jessie Damroth, is working with Prudence Athearn, from Vineyard Nutrition , Noli Taylor from Island Grown Schools, and Meg Athearn from Morning Glory Farm, to create a menu that is both nutritious and delicious for Island children.
Did you know that one in four Island school children receive free or reduced food from school, and that’s just the ones that qualify? The cost of living on the Vineyard is so high, even parents who both work, may have trouble providing food for their children.
Jessie has seen the hunger in children’s eyes when they come in for the After School Program. How sluggish some are. Many children eat lunch as early as 11:30 a.m. After several more hours at school they are hungry. Without the Club, they may stay hungry until they leave to go home. Or stay hungry if they go to another childcare provided.
Jessie told me that some of the kids at the Club don’t get home until 9 p.m., and may not even be getting dinner, waiting until breakfast at school the next day.
You’d be surprised at the number of children who are living in hotels, a room in a house or are “jumping” — going from house to house to live. A number of children have parents struggling with addiction, or work problems, even divorce can have a huge impact.
When you hear the stories, it is so heart breaking. As a mother of two, I can’t imagine my little ones every going without food, and they sure do eat. They’re always hungry it seems.
That’s why when we at Point B Realty heard about the Happy Healthy Kids, we were so excited that the Martha’s Vineyard Teddy Bear Suite was coming up. What better cause to raise money for than that of food for hungry children.
As I mentioned, Jessie is working with others to offer more than just a granola bar. With the team she’s partnered with, they have come up with a menu that offers choices, nutritious and filling food. One day there is will be a pasta bar, the next might be a oatmeal bar, all of which offer a number of toppings to add and make it their own.
Prudence is working on training the Club staff on nutrition. This is a lifestyle change for the club. Less sugar, more whole grains and fresh fruit and veggies.
In the transition period from the old way of snacking to H2K, Jessie has already seen a change. Kids are acting out less, they’re more focused on homework and activities. Speaking of homework, the homework room has seen a 100% increase in use. There are so many more kids using it.
Food is such a basic need, crucial to development, both mentally and physically. Without nutritious food, kids are at a disadvantage
Having H2K free and open to all kids, enables the children to feel good about eating at the Club. It also does not separate the haves from the have-nots. Kids can feel good about eating good food. Not having money is not a problem.
The kids at the Club are excited about the new food program. Many are coming up for seconds, and have expressed their gratitude. How wonderful to have a safe place where you can also fill your belly.
The Club’s board is very excited about the program and the community support has been amazing. Morning Glory Farm and Cronigs have been very supportive with food, discounts, donations, etc.
The Club is also a part of Island Grown Gleaning. When possible, children have the chance to bring home a bag of fresh vegetables the group gleaned from local farms. What a great, affordable way to get veggies into the home.
For Jessie, H2K was not an option, it was a need. And she and the Club, are trying to figure out how to do more. This new program will hopefully serve as a model for other organizations on and off Island.
The poorest county in the state of Massachusetts has so many of its residents that are too young to help themselves not go hungry. A sad, almost unbelievable, reality when living in one of the most beautiful places on the East Coast.
The cost of H2K is $35,000, but that will go up, because the number of the kids in the After School Program continues to rise. For more information about the struggle with hunger on the Island the Vineyard Gazette did an amazing article the Hidden Story of Hunger on Martha’s Vineyard.
The Martha’s Vineyard Teddy Bear Suite makes it fun and easy to help. $30,000 is would cover most of the cost of H2K. With your help, we can raise that and maybe even more. Knowing that all these bears make for a perfect place for holiday memories, and also helps make a difference for hungry children — ah the magic of the holidays.
Come see all the bears in their new home, the Harbor View Hotel Captain Collins Cottage #20 – also we owe a special thanks to all our friends at the HVH – their help and beautiful cottage make this event even more special!
December 2nd – 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
December 3rd – 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
December 4th – 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
December 5th – 8th 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Christmas in Edgartown
December 9th – 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
December 10th – 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
December 11th – 10:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m.
Also, don’t forget to save the date for the 2nd Annual Teddy Bear Trot, now part of Christmas in Edgartown!
You can learn more about the Martha’s Vineyard Boys & Girls Club on Facebook. Up to date teddy bear suite events on MVTEDDYBEARSUITE.COM. And don’t forget to “Like” Point B Realty on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter, Linked In, Google+, Pinterest and Youtube.