By Luke Jackson, rising eighth grader and Book Harvest volunteer
This past week, I went to a program put on by Chapel Hill Mayor Hemminger, where her new initiative, Food for the Summer, was celebrated. She wants to feed all the kids in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro area who qualify for free or reduced price lunches during the school year. These kids mainly depend on the calories they get from their school lunches, so many of them are very hungry during the summer. In an effort to keep the kids fed, Mayor Hemminger has opened 40 meal sites in Chapel Hill/Carrboro where kids can go get free lunches every weekday. They do not need any certification, nor do they need to fill out any long, complicated forms; they need only to show up at one of the sites. In the first two weeks of the program, 10,237 meals were made and given to kids. Already, 1,200 volunteer hours have been logged for this program since the school year ended.
Book Harvest had a special part at this “festival.” After the kids who attended ate lunch, sat through a few quick talks by major cogs in the wheel of the program, and watched an amazing performance by the Triangle’s own Bouncing Bulldogs, they were set loose. Among the many activities planned for the afternoon, picking out books was the one that most of the kids were excited to do.
The kids came in hordes. Some quickly shoved a few books into a bag and walked off, while other stayed for a long time, weighing all of their options carefully. Even kids who had clearly adopted a “too-cool-for-school” attitude quickly broke character to pick up a few books, and
maybe even one or two for their little brother or sister. One kid came over, desperate for an I Spy book, and was disappointed when we couldn’t hook him up. But a little bit later, we found an I Spy book in the bottom of a box, so I found him and gave it to him. The look of joy on his face was absolutely worth the work of scanning the faces of 100+ kids to find him.
Overall, the event was well-planned, organized, and just plain fun. I was very happy to be involved in such a special program. The kids loved the books, and I am sure that they will enjoy them for a long time to come.