"I like helping at home and I know it will make a difference everyday," says Callie Huffman.
She's making sure kids in Hoopeston don't go hungry. It's a growing problem in her small hometown, so she runs a program to feed kids lunch during the summer.
The program feeds kids five days a week during the summer and organizers say that still doesn't feed all who need it. Therefore, they're expanding to help even more kids get free lunch.
Besides playing the piano at Faith United Methodist, cross-stitching, finishing grad school and mastering the French horn, feeding children is what Huffman is known for.
"I've really been given a great life and I guess I don't know what it feels like to go hungry and have these opportunities but I am glad that I can help a little bit," says Huffman.
She, along with other members, started Feed our Lambs in 2009. Huffman says
they serve the 60% of kids in the city's schools who get free and reduced lunches.
"Most of the time, if they're not getting the lunches at school, then who knows what kind of food they're getting at home during summer?" says Huffman.
Around 150 Pre-K through 6th graders get summer lunch Monday through Friday. To include siblings and others in need, 7th and 8th graders are now on the list too.
"It's kind of bittersweet because you don't want it to expand because that means there are still kids going hungry in town," says Huffman.
22.4% of people in Hoopeston live in poverty. That's nearly double the statewide average.
"The ones that come in barefoot, they get to pick out their milk, and they open the bag to see what's different. They're excited," says Huffman.
Each lunch costs about a dollar and they keep a budget of about $2,000. Since the program started, Huffman says they've never had to ask for donations. People's money and time seems to just fall from the sky. Typical of her hometown.
"In Hoopeston especially, they know it's nice to give back and they know that if we give, then we will probably get back in some way," says Huffman.
The program runs June 9 - August 8. As for Huffman, she of course, is getting ready to start a teaching job in Chrisman.
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