Grant gives food to homeless children

Charles Ward, president of Qwest Colorado, gave an oversized check to Mike Berry, executive director of Kids Aid, a program which fills a backpack of food each weekend for homeless children in School District 51.

A $10,000 check was presented to Kids Aid Wednesday afternoon by the joint efforts of the Qwest Foundation and the United Way.

The “Weekend Backpack Food Program” gives children on the reduced or free school lunch program a backpack full of nutritious food so that they can eat at home on the weekend.

“This is the largest grant we’ve every received and it’s pretty exciting,” said Mike Berry, executive director of Kids Aid.

Many children are not eating from noon on Friday until noon on Monday, said Charles Ward, president of Qwest Colorado as he presented the oversized check to a tearful Berry. “It’s absolutely impacting those kids’ ability to learn,” he added.

The Qwest Foundation gave $5,000 which was matched dollar-for-dollar by United Way. Qwest has given a total of $50,000 to the Colorado Department of Education for similar programs throughout the state.

There are currently 380 homeless children enrolled in the program. Berry said that is only 70 percent of the children who need help. “It’s going to give us the money to add the kids we don’t have which is about 100 more,” Berry said.

He estimates it costs about $4 to feed a child throughout the weekend and the program should now have enough money to continue throughout the 2010 school year.

The Qwest Pioneers, a group of retired employees, were also on-hand at the event to begin stuffing backpacks with rice, noodles, fruit cups and other snacks. They filled more than 129 bags for homeless children to take this weekend.


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