People magazine, known and loved worldwide for entertainment news and gossip, is shining the spotlight on a new kind of celebrity â€“ locally-based charity, Blessings in a Backpack.
The non-profit, which was founded in 2005 by Stan Curtis, was designed to feed elementary school children who qualify for the federally funded National School Lunch Program. Since beginning in Jefferson County, it has grown to serve nearly 59,000 children in the U.S., Colombia, Haiti and Canada. Recently, Blessings in a Packpack was named the benefiting charity for the year-long People magazine initiative, â€œPeople First: Help Feed a Child.â€
â€œ(Of) all the charities in America and (People) chose one in Louisville, Ky., and that really makes me proud,â€ said Curtis, who was informed last October that his organization had been selected for the People campaign.
Beginning in early February, every six weeks, People will highlight Blessings in a Backpack in editorials, public service announcements, and a feature in People en Espanol magazine.
â€œWe first really wanted to focus on childhood hunger because obviously itâ€™s a huge issue in the country,â€ said Elizabeth Gleick, executive editor of People magazine. â€œWhen we looked at organizations addressing hunger we liked the idea of choosing something a little bit more local and grassroots. We felt like (Blessings in a Backpack) was a match with the People brand and we liked the mission.â€
With the extended coverage in People, Blessings in a Backpack estimates the partnership will allow them to feed approximately 25,000 more children in 2012.
More than 62 percent of US school children qualify for the federally funded Free and Reduced Price Meal program, and for many of them, itâ€™s their only source of nutrition during the week. But, with the help of Blessings in a Backpack, each Friday, many children leave school with a backpack filled with food to sustain them throughout the weekend.
The charity is also having a profound effect in the classroom, generating improvements in test scores, reading skills, positive behavior and increased attendance.
â€œYou give (children) a chance to have consistent nutrition, theyâ€™re going to learn more,â€ Curtis said. â€œ(Weâ€™ve received) thousands of letters from schools saying our grades are (going up), our math is (going up), our reading scores are (going up).â€
An $80 donation to the organization can feed one American student in the program for an entire 38-week school year. By the end of 2012, People magazine expects donations to increase drastically, but Curtis â€“ already astounded by the growth of his charity since 2005 â€“ has no specific goal in mind, but simply hopes he made a difference in someone elseâ€™s life.
â€œItâ€™s a pretty strong partnership and I think itâ€™s going to mean tens of thousands of more children are going to be on this program,â€ said Curtis. â€œWe donâ€™t have a goal, we just want to feed more children. I think that if weâ€™re able to feed a lot more kids and get more people aware of what children in American schools face and how easily it can be replicated and how easily it can be adopted and cared about in communities around this country, I think the goal will take care of itself.â€
For more information on Blessings in a Backpack, visit www.blessingsinabackpack.org.
Contact writer Ashley Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.