Source: Sherman Publications

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Nameless program prompts overwhelming results

by David Fleet

December 18, 2013

Goodrich-It's been about seven years since Jean Kish, school district food service director, first recognized a need in the community near the holidays.

"I guess it's just called care to share," she said. "There's no official name for the program, but it all started when district families come in the school and filled out forms for the free and reduced lunch program. At the same time there's a release form asking if they need assistance from other charities—so I kept track, anonymously, of those who may need some help. So for the past seven years about Nov. 1, we send a letter out to these families explaining we have some very caring families in this community and they would like to help you this Christmas. An application is attached requesting clothes sizes and gift ideas for their children ages 1-18-years-old. The letter is returned by Nov. 16—in time for the Black Friday sales around Thanksgiving."

This year 32 area families responded, which included 83 children.

"This year we had so many from the Goodrich community that took on families it was just overwhelming—we even found Christmas trees for people," she said. "From teachers, school board members, communty education staff, para-pros, bus drivers and the Genesee County Sheriff Department, all came through big time. Local churches assist, too. The Goodrich Lions assist with food including canned food, along with a turkey or ham. Bueche's gift cards are also made available."

In 1996 the school district had 1.5 percent or 42 students that participated in the free and reduced lunch program, added Kish.

"This year we are now at 20 percent with about 400 students enrolled," she said.

The distribution was Tuesday at the high school community room.

"I see a lot of tears and hugs," added Kish.

"They can't believe our community is so caring and they pay it forward when they get on their feet, helping someone when they can."