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Church’s gift will help many Emilys

Joanna Sebelien told a story Thursday to some special guests at Harvesters.

A second-grader named Emily went to see the social worker at her school. She just wanted to say “Hi.”

The next day Emily went back. And the next day.

“Finally the social worker said, ‘Emily, I love you, but why do you keep coming in here?’ ” said Sebelien, Harvesters’ chief resource officer. “And Emily says, ‘BackSnack starts on Friday and I don’t want you to forget me.’ ”

She told the story to four leaders of the Community of Christ church who had come to the food bank with a $10,000 check, the largest donation yet to this year’s KC Challenge. The donation is large enough to pay for BackSnacks for 50 students for an entire school year.

Church members had been reading about the thousands of metropolitan area children who live in homes with little food in the cabinets.

“It truly takes a community coming together to alleviate this,” said Mike Hale, president of the church’s Midlands Mission Center. “We have the resources, we just need to raise the awareness.”

This year, Harvesters will provide weekend BackSnacks to about 15,000 children in the 26-county area. Thousands more need them.

Last year’s KC Challenge raised $235,000. Already this year, 1,487 people have donated more than $88,000. The drive runs through the holiday season.

One man gave $100 with a note: “I know what it is to be hungry. I was a prisoner of War in World War two. God bless you folks for what you are doing.”

A woman sent in a donation and wrote: “I came from a difficult background and knew hunger often as a small child. I’m also a retired teacher and I know that when kids are hungry they have a difficult time learning.”

Many of the Community of Christ Church members have a connection to the BackSnack program. Some work with children who receive them each week. Others help store some of the additional food that goes home with many children.

“We understand how critical it is for children who receive it each week,” said Barbara Borkowski, president of the church’s Central Mission Center.

As Sebelien ended the tour, showing where the BackSnacks are assembled, she said it all goes back to Emily, the second-grader, and making sure she’s not forgotten.

“There are 15,000 Emilys who are not forgotten every week,” Sebelien said.

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