Filling Pantries in Lawrence, Kansas

Random Acts is fighting childhood hunger, one local organization at a time, with funds and food to help food-insecure families. Our next stop on the #RANoHungryChild kindness tour was to fill pantries in Lawrence, Kansas. In the process, we brightened the day of a grandmother who recently took in her grandchildren and moved to Lawrence after much personal upheaval.

As part of the initiative, our Acts Proposal Officer Shawna Abston reached out to help one organization fill their food pantry so they could make the lives of people like Tina and her grandchildren a little easier.

Helping Kids in Lawrence

Around one out of every eight people in Kansas live in poverty, and out of the 93,000 in Lawrence, about 22 percent are that one in eight. Sixteen percent of those under the age of 18 live below the poverty line, with 19 percent under the age of six.

The Elizabeth Ballard Community Center works to help those children by providing access to early childhood education in Douglas County. The Center believes all children, regardless of income, deserve an early childhood education, so it provides low tuition rates and assists families in securing scholarships. The Center’s Early Education program gives children ages 2-5 a place where they can learn and develop skills to be successful in the next stages of their lives.

The Center also helps with “wrap-around services” to not only support the children, but their families as well. One such service is the Center’s food and clothing pantry, open free of charge to families in need. The Center provides a professional closet with work-appropriate attire, clothing pantry with items for men, women and children, kitchenware pantry, and other items such as books, games, children’s toys, and pictures.

The Center also has a Mobile Food Pantry that distributes fresh food ten times a year to anyone in need. If needed, the Center offers emergency rent and utility assistance to those who are eligible.

Tina’s Story

Random Acts’ donation to the Center gave one woman the help she needed after her life underwent some pretty big changes.

Tina recently moved to Lawrence by way of Louisiana, Ohio and Texas. She and her husband were living in Ohio when she received a call from her daughter in jail in Louisiana. Tina took custody of her grandchildren, Kyra, 10, Haden, 3, and CJ, 18 months, and drove back with nothing more than a grocery bag of used clothing for each child.

Her husband left her soon after, and her job transferred her to Texas. Within a year, her company downsized, leaving her to find work while the cost of living was high. She ended up packing the kids and everything that would fit into her old Impala and driving to live with her sister in Lawrence.

The Center came into Tina’s life during her search for childcare for Haden. With the Center’s help, Tina secured a scholarship and affordable housing with enough rooms for them all. As she unpacked, she received a call saying the Center had received Random Acts’ donation of food and funding. She says, with the donation, she would be able to fill the shelves in her new home.

“There’s really no more that we can ask for,” Tina said. “Thanks to the compassion of strangers, we have all we need to survive to keep the kids happy and healthy.”

If you are feeling inspired by Tina’s story, please consider donating directly to the Ballard Center. If you have an idea to spread kindness in your own community, reach out and let us know. We might be able to help you with your kindness act. Learn more here.