I remember many years ago when I was trying to find funding for our new skate park and how hard it was sending grant applications to places like the Tony Hawk Foundation and such that said we had too much money around us.
Even though I pointed out that there is a great income disparity in our community, backed up by statistics from the school district, we were denied and had to rely on smaller grants (for which we were extremely grateful!) and do-it-yourself fundraisers to build the park.
Economics haven’t changed much here except that housing is all the more unaffordable if even available, and families have come and gone and come again.
Coast Unified School District reports a large percent of our schools’ population is on the Free and Reduced Lunch Program (which also includes breakfast)! That means we have an awful lot of families on the brink of economic despair. Thankfully, our schools are able to address hunger during the week. But what about the weekends?
An old friend, Bobby DeLancelotti, initiated “Got Your Back” at Del Mar Elementary School in Morro Bay. He now has teamed up with another pal, Theo Moreno, and others to bring this food supplement idea here to Cambria as well as three other grammar schools in Los Osos and Morro Bay.
“This program is about helping nutritionally challenged kids over the weekends,” Moreno told me. “We’ve currently identified 30 children in Cambria who most need this support, but we recognize that this number will grow.”
Starting Nov. 2, DeLancelotti, Moreno and volunteers will gather foodstuffs from donation boxes around town — currently at the Joslyn Center, Soto’s True Earth, the Vineyard Fellowship, Cambria Connection and Sunshine Health Foods in Morro Bay. They will then fill backpacks they’ve acquired with non-perishable food items and take them to the Cambria Grammar School Office, where they will be discreetly distributed.
“We would never want anyone to feel ashamed about receiving help,” Moreno pointed out. The children will then bring the backpacks back to school on Monday to be refilled the following Friday.
The Community Presbyterian Church in Cambria has provided space to gather donations. DeLancelotti is working on obtaining a 501(c)(3) nonprofit status since this is all about donations and volunteering. Moreno also informed me that they project it would cost about $48 per month for someone to sponsor a child in Cambria. These are the kids of your gardeners, shop workers, clerks … your neighbors! How much does a fancy coffee cost?
What can you do? Bring items such as healthy cereal, evaporated/dry milk, canned fruit, dried fruit, canned vegetables, canned meats, peanut butter and jelly, boxed mac and cheese, canned beans, instant rice, instant oatmeal, boxed juice, healthy non-perishable snacks . … Drop them off at the above-mentioned locations or arrange for a pick-up with Moreno by calling 805-935-9002.
Think of a time when someone “had your back.” This is an easy way to pay it forward.