Live Thankfully Paris saw success for its third year in a row, because of the helpful volunteers and school counselors, according to event organizer Christine Lenoir.
Lenoir, who founded Paris’s branch of Live Thankfully, said this year was “a little different,” because they were unable to hold a canned-food drive in the schools as years past. However, the organization still served about 140 families in the Paris area. Plus, instead of the canned-food drive in schools, she said they were able to collect gift certificates to local restaurants and gave those out alongside bags of food.
“We had lots of obstacles this year, but we still came together as a small group and were able to accomplish big things,” Lenoir said. “Even being able to help 1 to 5 to 10 people, it’s an amazing feeling. That’s also part of what we want to teach kids — it’s all about giving back. Being able to be apart of helping someone get through a hard time is something to be proud of and have that goal to live that way daily so that you can always be watching out for others.”
Lenoir said the program works closely with counselors throughout the area school districts to learn how many families are in need, and they never know who receives the gifts to ensure it’s kept anonymously, “the counselors ensure the right families get the food.”
“The counselors in our schools know the kids who can use the food and the families who need the food. Usually, the numbers are 25-40 in every school,” she said. “It was a little tougher to get into the schools to have communication with those counselors, to get the food to them, everything was different.”
Through sponsors in the area, Lenoir said they collected about $1,000 to go toward educational tools, food and gift cards for the program, “to fund what we’re doing.”
Under the surface, Lenoir said, the program focuses on school children during the two-week Christmas break vacation.
“So many kids depend on breakfast and lunch at school,” she said. “It’s also an educational program where we usually visit the schools and speak to the kids about the spirit of giving, and watching out for their friends and neighbors to make sure they had enough to eat and stay warm.”
This year, due to the ongoing pandemic, the organization was unable to hold assemblies with the students.
Lenoir said she is proud of the volunteers who came together this year in support of Paris Live Thankfully.
“A big thank you to them. They are jumping on the bandwagon with me in what might seem like a crazy idea, you’re just this one person asking, ‘what can I do?’ But you really can accomplish big things,” she said. “The NL Beta really helped out this year. In the past, Chisum FFA has also helped. We touch base with a lot of those leadership groups in schools and it’s really great for them to step up and do stuff like this.”
She also expressed her gratitude toward the school counselors who, “look out for school kids daily.”
“Thank you for taking the time to do what’s extra,” she said. “They have to take extra time to do this because figuring out how to get the food distributed, a lot of it is on them and just a thank you to them for caring enough to go the extra mile to take care of their people.“
“We hope to continue this program for many, many years to come.”
Live Thankfully is a non-profit organization and its full-backstory can be found at LiveThankfully.org.