LAURINBURG – It all started a decade ago with a phone call to Virginia Ray asking for help with children who were hungry.
Project INASMUCH was born then and there.
“I got a call from a principal from IEJ at the time and she wanted help for little children who were so hungry on Monday morning they couldn’t do their work. We started with 50 bags that week and we’ve been doing it for 10 years,” said Ray. “This is our anniversary month.”
Members of the project held an open house and celebration on Tuesday to celebrate 10 years of feeding hungry students. It was also an opportunity for those interested in volunteering.
Board members, volunteers and people from the community enjoyed snacks and small talk during that time.
Ray is executive director of the project or as some of the board members called her their fearless leader.
Each Wednesday evening eight to 10 volunteers gather at the office and prepare the bags for the students. Ray said they pack more 800, almost 850 now.
Staff from the school contacts Ray with the numbers needed at each school and volunteers deliver them every Thursday morning.
Once the school year ends, the giving doesn’t stop.
During the summer the volunteers go to the homes of the students. For the first five or six years they were able to still deliver to the schools, but that has changed.
“We take food and cleaning supplies every month and we take the bags too,” Ray said. “That’s what we do.”
Ora Tarlton, who is retired from the hospital, was at the open house getting information on how to volunteer.
“I’m here for the open house because I want to volunteer. I stay pretty busy, but I think I am can fit this in my schedule. This is a great idea. I planned to get involved.”
Director of Student Support Services Jamie H. Synan has worked with the program both as a principal and in her current role. She started as a principal in 2008 and the program was already in place in the schools.
“I think it is a wonderful program and really helps those students over the weekend who we don’t know if they have food or not. Schools also find this very beneficial for their students,” she said.
She works with social workers and other school personnel to ensure students are receiving this as well as other services.
Deon Cranford III, director of public relations with Scotland Regional Hospice, attended the open house and plans to volunteer on his own time with his wife.
“My wife used to teach at Washington Park and used to help out by supplying some of the kids with school supplies, clothes, and other basic necessities. It influenced us to become involved with organizations that help children. I have not worked in Scotland County in over a decade, and now that I am back, I wanted to find ways to help,” he said.
Maria D. Grandy can be reached at 910-506-3171.