Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
Just two weeks after extending its Power Pack Club program at Valley Elementary, the Steven A. Hunter Hope Fund added another school to its program last week — West Elementary.
West marks the fifth school participating in the Hope Fund’s Power Pack Club program, which provides needy students a weekend-worth of food to take home with them every Friday after school. Students become eligible based on the free and reduced lunch program, and upon recommendation of the children’s teachers. The program is already active at Portsmouth, New Boston, and Northwest schools, now providing food to more than 330 children.
The program is done after school hours in a private room to protect the child’s privacy so they won’t be mocked by others.
“Actually kids at this age take ownership of the program. Especially hungry kids. This is their food, and what you wind up with is kids who aren’t in the club will ask ‘why can’t I be in the club?’ There’s really no conception of what we’re really doing,” Mark Hunter said.
Hunter created the Steven A. Hunter Hope Fund with his wife, Virgie, in memory of their son Steven who passed away suddenly in 2006 while attending Milligan Christian College in eastern Tennessee. In addition to the Power Pack program, the non-profit Hope Fund also provides shoes, coats, clothing, school supplies, college entrance exam fees, ACT/SAT fees, field trip fees, tutoring, vision or dental exams, and more, to financially disadvantaged students.
The Hope Fund relies entirely on donations, and fundraisers such as their annual Steven A. Hunter Hope Fund Tennis Tournament, to help pay for these programs. This year’s sixth annual tennis tournament, held last month, collected $13,000 for the Power Pack program.
“God has blessed us so much in the way we’ve been able to increase. When we started the food program in January of 2010 in the Portsmouth system, there’s no way we would have thought we’d be able to be in five school systems in just a little over two-and-a-half years,” Hunter said at the tournament.
The Hunter’s were at West Elementary School on Friday, meeting with kids that receive food.
“This is our favorite time; when we can see the kids and the looks on their faces and everything comes together,” Mark Hunter said.
West Elementary Assistant Principal Linda Shaw said the school was thankful to participate in the program.
“We are very grateful for the generosity of the Steven A. Hunter Hope Fund, for Mark and Virgie Hunter and their contribution to our community and our school. It means so much to know that these students that are so much in need will have this food that they can open themselves. In the past we have gathered it up through teachers and other avenues, but now that we have this it just meets a great need,” Shaw said.
For more information about Steven’s Power pack Club or the Steven Hunter Hope Fund visit, www.stevenshopefund.org.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or email@example.com.