EUGENE, Ore. - This assembly line of love is part of a program called "Little Sprouts," an interfaith effort between Bethesda Lutheran and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
From pudding cups, to crackers, instant oatmeal, and raisins, it's all packed with love to bridge the hunger gap between the school week and the weekends for children in the Bethel School District.
If you've ever had a difficult time making ends meet, or filling your cupboards to feed your children, you're not alone. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau numbers, almost 20% of people in Lane County are considered to live in poverty. That's approximately 75,000 people who may be struggling to pay the bills, find a job, or feed their families.
But thanks to some "Acts of Kindness"--by a handful of loving individuals--children in our community are going home from school with special "packs of love" to help.
"It's really heartbreaking to think about these sweet little kids that are really a lot less fortunate than what I've been able to have in my life,” says Lauren Yorgeson of Eugene.
She’s talking about the hundreds of children that don’t have enough to eat, especially on the weekends when school lets out—children her young boys know.
"These are kids in their schools that don't have enough food on the weekends; and that's something that my children can understand and help out with," Yorgeson adds.
From pudding cups, to crackers, instant oatmeal, and raisins, it’s an assembly line of love, where volunteers like Yorgeson, and her boys, pack food as part of a program called "Little Sprouts". It’s an interfaith effort between Bethesda Lutheran Church, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The items are "packed with love", bridging the hunger-gap between the school-week, and the weekends, for children in The Bethel School District.
Bethesda Lutheran Church Pastor, Steve Dow, spearheaded the project a few years ago, when he discovered the need.
“Although this little snack pack can't do everything, it at least gives them a little bit of food to tied that gap between Friday to Monday,” says Dow.
LDS Public Affairs Director for the Santa Clara Stake, Alberta Cook, also uses the project as a teaching tool for her granddaughter, “She went to school and one of the little girls that she knows was talking to her when she got hers and she says this is the only food I have,” explains Cook.
“It really made a difference with Julia because she realized that she was helping people--this little girl didn't have food on the weekend,” added Cook.
And for such selfless acts of kindness NBC 16 likes to honor those who give back to their community.
First, we surprised The Yorgeson's-- with a $50 gift card, “Thank you so much! My boys, we will go and get some games, or something we can do as a family,” says Yorgeson.
Next, we surprise Alberta Cook, “Here is a $100 gift certificate for you," says NBC 16’s Jodi Reynosa.
But she immediately hands it to Pastor Dow.
“That's the best place for me to use it, right there--$100 usually takes care of one child for the whole year,” says Cook.
“...We'll pass it onto the person who buys all the stuff,” says Pastor Dow.
Next we get to see the fruits of their labors, here at Malabon Elementary School--one of the benefactors.
“It’s such a wonderful thing to be able to hand these to the kids, they get so excited it's a little weekly gift that they get,” says Bethel School District Homeless Liaison, Dee Faiman.
A real gift-- helping hundreds of children thrive in the face of heartbreak, thanks to "The Little Sprouts Program" sowing the seeds of love.
If you know someone who selflessly gives back to our community, reach out to us at Actsofkindness@kmtr.com