Must Watch: Kids Respond to Hunger

SoulPancake surprised kids with a stunning fact: 1 in 5 children faces hunger in the U.S. Then we asked them for ideas on how we could fight child hunger together. Their thoughts were smart, creative, and heartfelt. It’s easy for your family to help fight child hunger: volunteer at a food bank; enter a ConAgra Foods product code to donate a meal, or collect food.

CASA Success Story: Sammy

sammy0This year, Sammy* will spend the holidays like many of your children, grandchildren, and other kids you know—perhaps like you did. She’ll be surrounded by loved ones, excited to open presents, and maybe she’ll get to indulge in sweet chocolatey treats. She is in a loving home because of the loving support of this community.

Sammy was an abused and neglected child in our community whose parents were unwilling or unable to care for her. At the age of two her case was opened with the Department of Social Services and at three the Superior Court Judge assigned her a volunteer advocate named Diane*. Diane connected with and advocated for Sammy, and most importantly was a trusted and stable presence in her otherwise chaotic life. Sammy had seen things no child should.

One night, the police found Sammy and her baby sister crying hysterically in a blood spattered motel room as a disheveled stranger lay on the ground. The baby was filthy and hungry with no food and a bottle of spoiled, moldy baby formula. Mom was incoherent and at four years old, Sammy and her sister were removed from her birth mother for the second time. Weeks later she asked Diane, “Who will take care of me when I’m five?

Diane didn’t know but assured Sammy that as her CASA volunteer, she would always be there.

Soon after, the children were placed in a foster home where it became clear to Diane that Sammy was unhappy. Diane reported her observations to the newly assigned social worker and after an investigation, the girls were moved to a safe, nurturing home where they remained until they were adopted.

Today Sammy is five and thriving in her forever home with her healthy baby sister. At the adoption hearing the social worker, with tears in her eyes, hugged Diane and said, “I couldn’t have done it without you.”

*Names and identifying details have been changed to protect the identity of both the child and CASA volunteer

A Year with Children’s Farmers Markets

Over the past year, June 2015-May 2016….must! charities provided funding for all nine north county SLO Food Bank’s Children’s Farmers Markets.All nine north county Children’s Farmers Markets are strategically located at schools with 60-90% of their students qualifying for free or reduce priced lunches.  During the past year, these markets provided over 117,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to over 9,000 children and their families.

The fresh produce from these markets provided over 97,500 meals

“I bring the fruits and vegetables home to my parents, so we can make salad. I like to put lettuce and the white broccoli in my salad. I make chicken salads and fruits ones too.” –Cadence, 2nd grade

“They sell so much fruits and vegetables that are good for you. They put stuff out to make smoothies with. They sell corn sometimes, so then I can make popcorn” –Adrian, 2nd grade

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California State Fair Partners with must! charities

The California State Fair is partnering with must! charities – for every ticket sold using promo code MUSTCHARITIES, we receive $1.  From concerts, to horse racing, to animals, to rides to…well, everything all Americana – the California State Fair has it!  Held July 8th – 24th, make this a summer vacation getaway for you and your family while also supporting must! charities.  Simply purchase tickets online and use promo code MUSTCHARITIES.



Boys & Girls Club Success Story: Juliana

Juliana has been a Club member for over two years. When she first joined us, it was a constant struggle to get her to focus on her homework and make appropriate social choices. She was easily distracted, craved attention from her Power Hour group, and believed she couldn’t do her schoolwork. Staff recognized Juliana’s intelligence and sense of humor, but we had to work very hard to help her improve self-esteem, build focus and self-control, and believe that she could achieve more.  Juliana’s group leader, Elyse, spent many hours of one-on-one time with Juliana, as part of our on-site mentoring program.

PICT4068Elyse successfully encouraged Juliana to join Smart Girls, a program that is designed to build character and help girls successfully navigate adolescence.   Lastly, we worked in conjunction with the middle school to identify specific areas where her mentor could be of the most help with regard to academic performance.
Through considerable effort, Juliana has made enormous strides in both her behavior and academic performance.  When Power Hour starts, she is immediately on task. When she is struggling with math, instead of acting out in frustration, she calmly raises her hand and waits for help. She is now determined to finish her homework and to get good grades.  She has completely turned her grades around, achieving A’s and B’s instead of her prior D’s and F’s. This quarter she will make honor roll at Flamson Middle School, something she never thought she could accomplish.  She was in disbelief when Elyse told her that she had the grades to make honor roll.  Speechless, she slowly looked up at her, and then finally managed to utter the words, “No way”.

We, at the Club, have always been in Juliana’s corner, encouraging her and celebrating her successes, large and small.   Elyse reflected that, “It is stories like Juliana that encourage me to do what I do. To never give up on any student, because our consistency and encouragement just may be the thing they need to pick themselves up and hold their head high in confidence. That with a little help, or sometimes a lot, they can make a great future for themselves.”  We are so proud of Juliana and the personal growth she has achieved as a Club member.

Must! Charities Youth Board Donates $10,000

As the must! charities’ youth board just rounded out their school year commitment, the board was able to gift $10,000 into the community.  After a year of education on philanthropy, local non-profits, learning how to give in a well thought out way, and volunteering in the north county the youth board recently announced where they would be investing their dollars.

$5,000 was given to Boys & Girls Club to be used towards partial scholarships for youth who could not afford to attend their summer program, but were in the year-round program.  Boys and Girls Clubs gives partial scholarships to youth in need, and our youth board was excited to help those kids out and make sure they had the opportunity to be at the Club all summer, plugged into activities and assured they had a safe place to be over the summer months. Our youth board was able to volunteer at the Atascadero Pilot-Program with middle school aged kids. They enjoyed building relationships with them, playing games, and cooking dinner & dining together.

The other $5,000 would be given to The Food Bank of SLO County so that they could expand their Children’s Farmer’s Market sites and further serve more kids in the north county. This money will equate to approximately 16 more markets in the north county. Our youth had the opportunity to volunteer at these markets this past year and it left a lasting impression on them.

must! charities’ Youth Board is a group of local high school students making a positive difference through collaboration and dedication by empowering other youth to make changes that are wanted and needed to benefit the community as a whole.

Students involved have volunteered to serve a minimum of a year term (September through May) and are locally known leaders on their campus. They have displayed a willingness to serve and make a difference for those less fortunate in our community.

Requirements to serve on the 2016/2017 Youth Board:

  • Students must be entering 10th, 11th, or 12th grade for the fall of 2016.
  • Students must attend meetings one Sunday of each month from 6:30-7:30PM (dates to be determined)
  • Students must attend and actively participate in volunteer service projects (dates to be determined)

Applications for our 2016/2017 youth board are now available. At this time Templeton High School is well represented on the board, so we are taking applications from Paso Robles High School and Atascadero High School Students . Click Here to Apply.

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