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John Thompson

Elizabethton Bureau Chief
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Buckets of love: Elizabethton food program sets new record, new goals

August 19th, 2014 10:03 pm by John Thompson

Buckets of love: Elizabethton food program sets new record, new goals

Families line up for one of the TLC Community Center's summer food program events. (John Thompson/Johnson City Press)

ELIZABETHTON — This summer was more than a record-breaking year for the TLC Community Center’s summer food program for children. They didn’t just break the record, they demolished it by providing 72,924 meals to school children during the period of June 2 to Aug. 8, when the children don’t have access to the school nutrition programs.

The old record was last year’s 48,000. Program director Angie Odom said many of the children were sad to see the program end and she said her program wants to keep in touch with the children and provide other needed help for them.

That is the reason TLC is preparing to launch a new program called Project Home Town to help the children. It is called Buckets of Love and will use the types of buckets made famous by Kentucky Fried Chicken to provide the children with basic items the badly need, such as soap, shampoo, combs and toothbrushes.

Odom said baskets will be distributed to donors who may fill them with items and return them to the TLC. The buckets will be distributed to the children in November.

“I know there are already some good organizations working to provide things for needy children in other parts of the world,” Odom said. “They are doing good work. The difference is Project Home Town is meant to help needy children living nearby. Children that Odom knows need help from her years of providing summer meals for them.

“Christians are commanded to love their neighbors,” Odom said. “What kind of example is it if we held children on the other side of the world and don’t help those who live right here? We need to let these children know we do care.”

Odom said the program will rely on organizations that work with children for the referrals. She said the referrals will come from school teachers, health care workers and the summer food program drivers. She hopes to distribute 1,500 buckets.

“If there is a need in the community, we should come together as a community,” Odom said of Project Home Town.

As far as feeding the children, there is not as great a need when they are in school and enjoying the school lunches. Odom hopes she can remain in touch with the children. To do that, she will be extending the summer feeding program so that a delivery is made once a month, on the last Tuesday of the month.

While the children may not remember such a schedule, Odom said anytime the delivery vehicles arrive, the children just come out and line up.

That way, the children get a bonus meal, and the knowledge the community still cares about them.

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