Pictured: Kathy Custis, right, is pictured with Boys & Girls Cub members after handing out lunches and snacks while clubs are closed during the coronavirus pandemic.
By Bill Sterling
Kathy Custis missed seeing her Boys & Girls Clubs members and knew many of them were missing meals and not getting the nutritious snacks they received before the coronavirus concerns shut down clubs in March.
So, with the help of a $2,000 United Way grant and support from the Eastern Shore Area for Aging/Community Action Agency (ESAAA/CAA}, Custis and her staff plus some teen club members are hitting the road twice a week to deliver meals and snacks to the members at their homes.
“I can’t describe the joy on the faces of our club members when we showed up with meals and snacks,” said Custis, the Club Director for Boys & Girls Clubs. Southeastern Virginia, Eastern Shore Club “Of course, we were so happy to see them after not being able to be around them for almost two months. We miss them so much.”
In the week prior to the first delivery, Custis and her team, which includes teen members from the Boys & Girls Clubs Keystone leadership program, contacted the families of club members to get directions to the homes and coordinate the delivery of the food. “Our Keystoners are volunteering and paying it forward to help in the community with the preparation and delivery of the meals,” said Custis.
“You could see it had a huge impact on the teens to be part of something that is helping the community,” added Custis.
Custis said the delivery of meals and snacks to the club members would not have been possible without a $2,000 grant from United Way to kickstart the program. Then, the ESAAA/CAA provided space at Hare Valley to store and package the meals. Two significant anonymous donations enabled the club to purchase a refrigerator to store the food, added Custis.
“We are so appreciative of the United Way and Donna Faye Sample of the Community Action Agency. We saw so much need in the community the first day we made deliveries. There are children roaming in the streets and many of them came up to us asking for food. Although they were not members, we gave what we could with the extra food we had.”
Custis said the program also gave her and the staff an opportunity to check in on members and let them know how much they are missed and the importance of staying and eating healthy during the pandemic.
“We also handed out academic worksheets to the club members, which we will pick up the next time we make a delivery and replace with new worksheets,” said Custis.
With Eastern Shore schools closed since early March, area students are not only missing academic time at school but important meals. Boys & Girls Clubs members also receive a meal following school and a nutritious snack they often take home with them.
“Many parents depend on those meals their kids get at school,’ said Custis, “”and during the summer Boys & Girls Clubs is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and includes three meals. It is a real hardship for the parents when the school and the club are not open due to this pandemic.”
Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Virginia invites anyone wanting to support the food delivery program, now scheduled to end June 12 due to funds available, can send contributions to Boys & Girls Club of Southeast Virginia, Eastern Shore Club, 4208 Seaside Road, Exmore, Va. 23350.