Kids Aid founder finalist for national award

Kids Aid volunteer Phil Smith, left, tosses a box of oat meal to Mike Barry, founder of the Kids Aid Backpack Program.

Mike Berry, founder of the Kids Aid Backpack Program in Grand Junction, is gaining national recognition for the program which feeds hungry children over the weekends during the school year and summer.

Berry is one of 15 finalists in the 2010 National Community Leadership Awards given by the Invest in Others Charitable Foundation and InvestmentNews, a weekly newspaper for financial professionals.

Berry is one of three finalists in the Volunteer of the Year category.

He and the other finalists will be honored at a dinner in New York City Sept. 14. The winners of the awards will be announced. Winners will receive $10,000 for their charity and finalists will recieve a $500 donation.

“I’m excited,” Berry said. “I like New York but we won’t be staying long because we have backpacks to get out.”

Berry is a partner at Colorado West Financial Advisors, LLC. He started the program after learning how many children received free and reduced lunches through the school district. He wondered how children were able to feed themselves during the weekend.

Needless to say, Berry is honored to have been chosen for such a prestigious award within his industry. He was nominated by his business partner, Linda Eden. Eden had quite a bit of work to complete the nomination process without Berry’s knowledge. She completed applications, reference letters, and newspaper articles.

The program currently has 1,800 elementary and middle school students enrolled at 37 schools. Berry hopes to expand the program into every school within the school district.


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