In this season of thanks and giving, the United Way of Defiance County (UWDC) is one local charity that provides a variety of programs specifically that help children. Below are listed some of them:
• The Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which promotes early literacy, delivers one book per month to every child up until the age of 5.
Although the Dolly Foundation manages the logistics of mailing the books, the United Way of Defiance County covers the cost of operating the program for our area, which includes cost of books and postage. It is also the UW’s responsibility to promote the program to encourage participation and manage the database of those children enrolled.
The cost for this program is roughly $30 per child per year. With 1,080 children currently enrolled, the cost is roughly $32,400 per year. The Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library is providing a matching grant to help cover the cost as the UW shows proof in growing enrollment. Defiance County is at 40% of children, 5 and under, that are enlisted in this program. The goal is to reach 100% and “while that is exciting,” according to the UWDC, this will require funding the program at a higher amount.
• The Back Pack Buddy program is a supplemental food program for elementary students in Defiance County that qualify for the free and reduced lunch program.
Community health assessments have shown access to food a concern for families, and school counselors can also verify this need with the stories they hear almost daily.
The UWDC has operated this program for over 10 years to meet this need. We coordinate the menu and ordering of food as well as the volunteers each week to stuff roughly 378 bags of food for children to take home on the weekend.
The cost for this program is around $3/week per child. Food is delivered roughly 33 weeks of the school year making the cost approximately $37,422/school year, or about $100 per child per year.
• The Feeding Success program operates a food and personal hygiene pantry in each middle school and high school in the county, and has now expanded into Four County Career Center to meet the needs of the 200 Defiance County students enrolled there. Prior to every school year, the guidance counselors at each school coordinate with the UWDC office to order items for the pantry.
The items consists of snacks students can eat during the school day if they have recently missed a meal, but also items they can take home to be certain to have dinner that night or over the weekend. Basic hygiene needs can be met as well as the pantry also stocks items like soaps, shampoo, tooth paste, and toothbrushes.
The UWDC is currently raising the budget of this program for the coming year because the needs keep rising, especially after the removal of the free and reduced lunch program that ended for all students this school year.