The challenge was to help battle what Superior Schools Superintendent Scott Kinney said is poverty-generated “cold hands and cold hearts.”
Thanks to the generosity of Superior area residents and school staff, that challenge was met in a big way during a recent “Spook Out Hunger in Superior” food drive that brought in more than 2,000 pounds of non-perishable food items for the Superior School Food Pantry.
Not only were the shelves at Superior Elementary stocked with badly needed food assistance, community residents donated clothing and school supplies to help those who can’t afford them.
Led by Superior Elementary administrative assistant Dawn Bauer and others, the food drive was honored by the Montana Unified School Trust organization (MUST) which presented a certificate to school officials for finishing in a three-way tie with two other Montana school districts for most donations collected.
During the month-long drive school children and residents gathered a variety of food items for the pantry. They finished tied with Havre and Drummond for top honors statewide.
“We wanted to see what we could do,” said Bauer. “We joined with the MUST program to do whatever we could to help combat hunger and other needs in the community. This is a really cool program.”
In addition to collecting food items, Bauer said the drive and other activities have helped provide kids with warm clothing as winter approaches.
“We do things like the Backpack Program which provides for those who can’t afford things like basic school supplies,” Bauer said. “We also collect shoes, clothing, hats and mittens that are donated from all over this area. This is a good way to give back to the kids of rural Montana.”
Donations came from as far away as Billings, Bauer said, referring to a Magic City resident who read about the program and wanted to help.
Currently the programs help feed and clothe between 75 and 80 children weekly in the Superior area.
MUST CEO Andy Holmlund said the Spook Out Hunger drives and other activities are what his organization is all about.
“We try to do anything we can to help,” Holmlund said. “If we don’t help children we don’t have a future.”
Holmlund said the MUST group sponsors the hunger drive and other programs throughout the state, including 168 school districts in Montana.
“We are a non-profit organization supporting those who can’t go to the ballot box.”
The MUST program is now in its fourth year, he said.
Superintendent Kinney praised the work of his staff and lauded the efforts of MUST.
“MUST is a great organization,” Kinney said. “They are on a very cool mission and understand what the needs of our communities are all about.”
“We started this pantry and other efforts six years ago,” Bauer said. “The need was obvious. There are kids out there who need hope, medicine, food and so much more.”
She said many other organizations have become involved, including county health programs made available to those who can’t afford them.
Kinney pointed out another important factor in helping children in need.
“There is a real stigma associated with children from low income families,” Kinney said. “We don’t want kids to suffer from the social stigma that is part of not having what others have.”
And, he added, there are related factors involved.
“Hungry kids can’t concentrate as well. We want this to be a hand up, not a hand out.”
“For me,” Bauer said, “this became personal. We all want to make childhood like it’s supposed to be.”