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Why these community members are making sure Petersburg kids have a hot meal on New Year's Day

Posted at 6:33 PM, Dec 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-28 18:35:03-05

PETERSBURG, Va. — Several organizations are coming together in Petersburg to make sure children throughout the city start the new year with a hot meal in their bellies.

It's the second time this coalition of groups has joined together to make a difference in the lives of the children and their families in their community.

“It’s a need not being properly addressed, in my opinion" said Karen Brown-Davis with the Justin J. Davis Heart Foundation — one of the groups involved in Sunday's event.

Pastor Lamont Hobbs with Metropolitan Baptist Church said, “It’s not their fault." His church is also involved in this second year of the “No Child Hungry” event.

“I saw a lot of this coming up and it just got worse," said Sam Chandler with St. Stephens Masonic Lodge #247. 

Chandler knows first-hand there are kids in the community that are hungry.

He grew up in one of Petersburg's subsidized housing neighborhoods. “My mother helping feed the neighbors, kids not having Thanksgiving meals, kids not having Christmas meals, and some trying to make it through the month, in the low-income housing areas," recalled Chandler.

Now, as an adult, Chandler believes in giving back. That's why his masonic lodge and other organizations are teaming up with Hebron VA to make sure children start the New Year with a full stomach.

“Kids are hungry, they go to school hungry, they go to school to eat" said Brown-Davis.

Pastor Hobbs said he understands the dilemma has a trickle-down affect. “Children can’t compete in school, and be their very best if they don’t have the best resources."

Children and their families can come to the masonic temple across from Metropolitan Baptist Church on Halifax Street on New Year's Day starting at 2 p.m. to get a hot meal.

 Chandler said last year they delivered the meals to families in hotels.

Hebron VA’s goal this year is to serve 200 meals, but Pastor Hobbs added, “It’s not about the quantity and the number of people. It’s about the quality of what you do. It’s about why you do it."

Pastor Hobbs and those taking part in this year's event said while children are our future, now is the time to help them. “So it’s critical that as a community, that we always make sure that we take care of the children". 

Another part of the solution, Brown-Davis said, involves providing new school supplies for the New Year. “We know that at the beginning of the school year, a lot of people focus on being able to provide school supplies but those dwindle down, so it has to be a consistent effort to replenish and to just encourage them to do better in school.”

The effort by the volunteers, sure to make a difference according to Pastor Hobbs. “You can never go wrong helping.  You can never go wrong giving back."

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