Homeless and impoverished children in 10 schools across the county will have access to school and hygiene supplies, and snacks, during the upcoming school year thanks to Bright Blessings Care Cupboards and Josie McPhail, a second-grader at Selwyn Avenue Elementary.
Each month, Bright Blessings will stock the Care Cupboards in those schools so teachers and guidance counselors who see a child in need can provide immediate assistance. Josie has spent the summer fundraising and has contributed $1,700 toward Bright Blessings’ $10,000 summer goal for Care Cupboard supplies.
Bright Blessings serves homeless and impoverished babies, children and youth in Mecklenburg, Union, and Cabarrus counties in North Carolina and in York County, South Carolina through its various programs.
The 7-year-old’s interest in helping homeless kids began last fall when she saw what appeared to be a homeless person on the street near Southpark Mall.
“She asked if we could give them money. I told her that there are places that help out people and that we would check into it,” said stepmom Charity McPhail.
“A few days later, we were eating breakfast and it was raining. Josie asked me if there were kids with no homes that were out in the rain. As soon as we finished eating, I went to the Hands On Charlotte website to see if there was a place that would allow children to volunteer.”
Charity quickly found that Bright Blessings welcomes child volunteers and serves children. That was the perfect organization for a nurturing, benevolent child worried about others her own age.
Charity printed off a list of all the programs that Bright Blessings offered, and Josie chose to put her support behind the hygiene kits.
“She took money out of her gift jar. We went to Target and she purchased everything on the list,” Charity said.
This spring Josie and Charity signed up for a Community Impact Session at Bright Blessings, giving the young volunteer a chance to wrap presents, color wrapping paper, create bookmarks, pack care and comfort kits, and do a variety of other tasks. When she heard about the summer fundraising challenge, she met it head on.
“I wanted to help raise money for homeless kids. Me and my friends had a lemonade stand and my family and friends gave me some money. All this helps homeless kids and I think it’s a really good thing to do,” Josie said.
“I hope other people will give, too.”
Charity McPhail created a short video of Josie working at Bright Blessings and distributed it to family and friends. Josie’s dad, Matt McPhail, works at Federal Marine Terminals and that company agreed to match the donations Josie collected. Before the campaign ends on Aug. 31, Charity McPhail is confident that Josie’s fundraising efforts will net at least $2,000 for Bright Blessings.
Amy Cervantes, the Matthews-based nonprofit’s co-founder and volunteer executive director, said the money couldn’t come at a better time. The Care Cupboard program is growing. Seven more schools have asked to join. That will only be possible if additional money is raised.
“Schools are asking for this program because when there’s a need, this is a real time solution. Teachers and guidance counselors have a supply they can pull from and help the situation immediately without embarrassing or singling out the child,” Cervantes said.
“Whether its school supplies for a third-grader, deodorant for a middle-schooler, snacks for a kindergartner, or body wash, shampoo or toothpaste for a student that doesn’t have those items at home, the Care Cupboard is there for them.”
Cervantes said the Care Cupboards served more than 1,200 children last year, and, if more schools are added, could serve as many as 3,000 this coming school year. She estimates that adding a school to the program and keeping it stocked will cost about $500 per month – $5,000 per school per year.
Melinda Johnston is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to help?
Bright Blessings expects to serve more than 8,000 children, ages birth through high school, this year through its programs.
Financial donations are needed so the organization can buy in bulk at reduced prices. In-kind donations of new toys, books, hygiene and school supplies, diapers, baby wash and other items are always appreciated.
In addition to the Care Cupboard program, Bright Blessings also offers the Bless-a-Birthday program, which provides party supplies, presents, and a care and comfort bag to homeless children in shelters and schools in Mecklenburg and Union counties.
The Bless-a-Baby program provides essentials to homeless babies and babies born into poverty.
The Gift of Literacy program supplies books and lap desks to children in shelters or who are transient homeless.
The Gift of Care program provides hygiene items, stuffed animals, blankets and snacks. To find out more, visit www.brightblessingsusa.org or call 704-846-23.