The Bristol nonprofit Caring for Kids, which runs programs for children in Bristol and South Bristol, is delivering boxes of food to local families every week this summer.
In previous years, Caring for Kids hosted a weekly program for kids on Fridays at the Congregational Church of Bristol. Children would do crafts and listen to speakers from the fire department, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, and local businesses.
At the end of the summer, the kids were sent home with a large box of food for their families.
Caring for Kids President Jenny Pendleton said the new summer food delivery program can benefit the whole family on a weekly basis, including children who were too young or too old to attend the summer program.
The new summer program coincides with a move for the organization. For the past few years, Caring for Kids had operated out of the basement of the Congregational Church of Bristol, but it had outgrown the space and needed to relocate.
“We had just received so many donations, we were running out of space,” Pendleton said. “It’s a good problem to have. The church has been great, but we just needed more room.”
The Bristol Fire Department offered the use of a room in the New Harbor station, which now houses all food for the snack packs the organization distributes during the school year, as well as other donations to Caring for Kids.
The organization made the move in early spring, Pendleton said.
This summer, volunteers have gathered at the station each Friday to prepare the meal boxes, which are either delivered by additional volunteers or picked up at the station by the families.
Pendleton said the volunteers aim to include two family meals in the boxes, as well as a variety of other items, including snacks for kids and fresh fruits and vegetables donated by Reilly’s. In addition, the organization sometimes includes small toys for the kids, like glow-in-the-dark bracelets and playing cards.
Caring for Kids has been able to provide weekly food packages for 16 families in Bristol this summer. Pendleton said the 16 families include 42 children ranging from 5 months to 18 years old.
Once the school year begins again, the organization will shift focus back to creating snack packs for students at Bristol Consolidated School and South Bristol School. Pendleton said she one day hopes to expand the effort to include students at Lincoln Academy.
Caring for Kids also has a Christmas program, which provides gifts, warm clothing, and other items to more than 90 children each year. The program has run for more than 20 years.
All Caring for Kids programs are funded through the Once Again thrift shop and bottle redemption at the Congregational Church of Bristol, as well as through donations and grants.
The entire organization is volunteer-based, with an estimated 40 volunteers participating over the course of the year.
“We’ve been very lucky to have such great volunteers,” Pendleton said. “No one in the organization is paid. Every dollar we receive goes straight to helping our kids.”
For more information about Caring for Kids, go to caringforkidsinbristol.org or find Caring for Kids on Facebook. To donate or volunteer, call Pendleton at 677-3300.