The Lunch Box Bus Rolls On Despite Coronavirus

The Lunch Box Bus Rolls On Despite Coronavirus

The show, as they say, must go on and that is certainly the case for the Lunch Box bus program which distributes meals to hungry children in numerous locations rural Tennessee on weekdays while school is closed for the summer.

During these times of the coronavirus pandemic which is ravaging our country, Rev. Sheldon Livesay, director of our partner in the small town of Rogersville, Of One Accord, explained that this year, at least initially, they will have to make some changes to how the program will operate.

In years past, the buses, which stop at several locations such as low-income housing complexes, mobile home parks, and community centers, children would get on the specially-outfitted retired school buses and eat their lunches seated together in a cafeteria-style setting.

However, because of COVID-19, out of an abundance of caution, for at least the first 30 days of the program which begins on June 1, volunteers will be providing the children with bag lunches to eat at home.

“Probably by the first of July safety restrictions from the coronavirus should be relaxed enough to let the children board the bus without fear,” Rev. Livesay told us.

We have been relieved to learn that so far there has only had one active quarantined case in the county.

“We are always anxious for the summer feeding program to start, but a little apprehensive at the same time,” says Rev. Livesay. “Children of low-income families get shuffled around due to summer custody because of divorces.

“Sites are chosen based on numbers of children during the school year, so we pray numbers will be good at each site.

“Of One Accord will be listening closely to possible increased safety guidelines this year and complying with each request from our state and health department. They have been working really hard keeping us informed.”

Thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans, for the past several years we have been able to provide Of One Accord with funding to help ensure the wheels of the buses keep rolling, and the bellies of hungry children are kept full with nutritious food which includes sandwiches, fresh fruit such as apples and oranges, and wholesome milk.

And to our supporters, Rev. Livesay says:

“We are so appreciative of Americans Helping Americans and the great work you are doing.”


Feeding Our Families” food boxes will feed 1,150 hungry families

Feeding Our Families” food boxes will feed 1,150 hungry families

They are called “Pallets of Hope” for good reason because that is exactly what they are for worried and hungry families in the most distressed regions of Appalachia.

This month, we plan to ship boxes containing five pounds each of frozen chicken and sausage, all-beef hot dogs, vegetables, and desserts, enough to feed a family of four two meals a day for two weeks to our partners.

For these desperate families already struggling in “normal” times, these days, weeks, months of the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the country, are anything but.

Our goal is to be able to send 1,150 of these frozen food boxes to to our partners including LAMP Ministries and the Community Helping Hands Clinic (which will deliver the boxes to a local food bank and church for distribution to their clients and parishioners) in Georgia, Come-Unity Cooperative Care and the Lee County Family Resource Center in Kentucky, Appalachian Outreach in Tennessee, and Big Creek People in Action in West Virginia.

But we need your help.

By being able to purchase these food boxes in large quantities we are able to keep the cost low — $34 each — much less than it would cost a family to purchase all this food at a local grocery store, even if it was available with meat processing plants being shut down across the country.

Those who will be receiving the food boxes will not only be relieved of the stress of wondering how they would put food on the dinner table when so many bills are due, especially among those fathers and mothers who have lost their jobs, already low-wage to begin with, and now have no income now whatsoever.

In April, thanks to our supporters, we were able to ship five Pallets of Hope containing hygiene items including dental kits, diapers for growing families with infants and toddlers — and especially critical — potentially lifesaving bars of soap and hand sanitizer, with three more pallets slated to go out this month.

You have no doubt seen on the news the hundreds of cars lining up at food pantries across the country of people in need of supplemental food, but in these small, rural communities there is often no other place for these families to turn to but our partners.


Congratulations to Lynn Parker – The Second Helper of the Month for April!

Congratulations to Lynn Parker – The Second Helper of the Month for April!

In recognition of National Volunteer Awareness Month, we would like to acknowledge Lynn Parker as the second recipient of the Americans Helping Americans® – Helper of the Month award for April! Congratulations, Lynn!

Lynn Parker is a model volunteer leader for his family, his church, his community and has been active in county and state efforts as well. Working with our partner, Of One Accord Ministry in Hancock and Hawkins counties in Tennessee, Lynn demonstrates a positive, friendly, helpful and encouraging, and Christian character that is always outstanding.

After Lynn retired in 1998, he wanted to give back to his community. His Baptist Association was promoting the need for food pantries to serve a rising number of people experiencing emergency food needs. Of One Accord Ministry was operating a food pantry in Rogersville and Lynn asked if he could organize an effort to join with that ministry to open a food pantry in Church Hill.

After locating a 2,400 square foot office space, he had to organize an effort to pay for the expense of keeping the building open. By personally making contacts with churches in his community, he has kept the food pantry open paying all expenses for the last 20 years.

During that time, the food pantry has distributed approximately 5 million pounds of food to 160,00 people!

In addition, the need for a Free Medical Clinic arose and Lynn invited a doctor to use the back section of the food pantry. From that tiny space, doctors served 7,830 patients, giving 13,494 prescriptions 2,224 labs, free of charge, to people without jobs and without insurance for eight years. The clinic grew to find it’s own home which opened in mid-2008.

Emergency Service is operated by volunteers with one lady working 15 hrs a week to help with record–keeping. Lynn schedules to ensure some of the 100 volunteers are always on duty to serve those in need. They have to organize another volunteer effort to be at local grocery stores several days a week to pick up donated items for the food pantry. He coordinates efforts to give Christmas food boxes, which are beyond the normal program of Emergency Services and he coordinates efforts to keep the facility cleaned, all maintenance done and equipment in running order.

In the last couple of years, Lynn has raised money to hire a part time supervisor for Emergency Services to help share part of the responsibility of day to day duties.

Both Lynn and his wife Carolyn still volunteer several days a month interviewing clients and during his time there have logged in over 10,000 hours!

Additionally, Lynn has received numerous awards over the years which illustrate his exceptional character, exemplary skills as a role model, and service to the church.

Lynn Parker spends his free time on a family farm, he grew up on, in Webster Valley, outside Rogersville where he still raises beef cattle. This is where he calls God’s Country, and has a place there he calls “new ground” which is a back hollow that holds a special place to go meet God.

He has joined a friend to establish a new business, called Appalachian Resource which takes potentially dangerous commercial waste and disposes of it in a safe manner.

In many ways, we could not find a better choice for recognition than that of Lynn Parker.

The Helper of the Month Award is designed to show the amazing, wonderful, hard-working, and dedicated people in the Appalachian communities we serve every day. Each month, we’ll be sharing these stories with you in the hopes that you’ll walk away as inspired as we are to do good things in your community!

Congratulations to Linda Smith – Helper of the Month for April!

Congratulations to Linda Smith – Helper of the Month for April!

We would like to acknowledge Linda Smith as the recipient of the Americans Helping Americans® – Helper of the Month award for April! Congratulations, Linda!

We heard about Linda from our partner, Sherry Lanham of the Lee County Family Resource Center in Lee County, Kentucky. According to Sherry, “Linda, her husband Bob and their son Josh own the local newspaper–Three Forks Tradition but they are the backbone of our community, especially Linda.” Sherry told us that this month, she has worked so hard to organize events to keep the Lee County community in good spirits while the COVID-19 virus has many people “down and out.”

As a show of support for the high school’s seniors who may not have a graduation ceremony this year, Linda was instrumental in raising money to buy signs with all of their names and placed them in the center of town and around the high school.

She is also working with the school to provide a gift for seniors every Friday, ranging from a pizza lunch to gift cards. The seniors pull up in their car and are handed a special gift from the community. This past Saturday she helped organize an antique car parade that drove all over the community and around the nursing home to help lift the spirits of those who cannot leave their residence.   

For over 25 years, she has been the chairperson of Lee County’s local “Woolly Worm Festival” that is held each October. Despite the fact that these are uncertain times, she is already working on the upcoming festival. Linda always gives the Lee County Family Resource Center free coverage when they do a school activity or one sponsored by Americans Helping Americans.

This year, Lee County will celebrate their 150th anniversary and she has worked hard to start this event since January.  Sherry says, “She had plans for monthly activities but those are on hold at this time.”  

In March, just prior to Kentucky’s shutdown, the resource center held a community event to celebrate some of their residents, churches and other community members who had lived in the town for a long time. Linda managed to get plaques, flowers, cakes and have the entire event organized and ready.

Linda truly embodies the spirit of a hometown hero. She and her husband both have numerous health problems but that doesn’t stop her from attending every community event, working hard and making sure those who need help in the community get what they need.

In addition to serving as Woolly Worm Chair, she serves on Lee County’s Friends helping Friends committee, Museum Committee, Natural Bridge State Park council, July 4th Committee, Trick or Treat on Main Committee, Tree of Love at Christmas, works with the local volunteer firefighters to raise money for their needs, and still finds time to help anyone who asks her for a minute.

Sherry concluded by saying, “She truly deserves to be recognized for all her efforts in our community.”

The Helper of the Month Award is designed to show the amazing, wonderful, hard-working, and dedicated people in the Appalachian communities we serve every day. Each month, we’ll be sharing these stories with you in the hopes that you’ll walk away as inspired as we are to do good things in your community!

Shipping Pallets of Hope to our Partners

Shipping Pallets of Hope to our Partners

In places like War, West Virginia, Gainesville, Georgia, Cleveland, Tennessee, Cleveland, Georgia and Beattyville, Kentucky there are hundreds of families in need of basic hygiene items including soap, hand sanitizer, dental kits and for those with infants and toddlers, diapers.

In these times of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, these items can literally be lifesavers, but many of these things are unavailable on store shelves right now, and unaffordable for parents who have lost their jobs and are struggling just to put food on the table.

At Americans Helping Americans, we are able to purchase these items in large quantities directly from a wholesaler and ship them to our longtime partners who have requested them for their clients — Big Creek People in Action in War, LAMP Ministries in Gainesville, Ocoee Outreach in Cleveland, TN, Caring Hands Ministries in Cleveland, GA and Cumberland Mountain Outreach in Beattyville.

And thanks to our supporters, we are shipping 5 pallets boxes containing 2,000 diapers, 200 bars of soap, 160 dental kits and 16 32-ounce bottles of hand sanitizers which they will receive by the end of the week.  Our hope is to be able to do a similar shipment for nearly a dozen more partners in the coming weeks.

Americans Helping Americans Doubles Our Efforts Amidst the Coronavirus

Americans Helping Americans Doubles Our Efforts Amidst the Coronavirus

At Americans Helping Americans, our partners throughout Appalachia strive to project what the most pressing needs will be for those most in need in their communities in terms of food, basic needs, education and more, for the year ahead. 


But no one could have anticipated the hardships that would be imposed on those families and seniors already struggling to get by in these times of the coronavirus pandemic. 

 Our grassroots partners have limited means, few staff, and we’re already stretched to their limits in operating their programs, and we understand that even the best-laid plans can go awry. 


Within the past week, we have been hearing from many of them as they have been forced to cancel well-established programs for the foreseeable future as other dire needs have emerged. 


In these extraordinary times, they must adapt, and we are giving them the flexibility to use their grant funding to adjust the services they offer to put these resources to best use. 


For our partner in Beattyville, Kentucky, Cumberland Mountain Outreach, which has for many years operated a popular free summer camp for children and youth, the tough, but necessary, decision to cancel camp this summer had to be made. 


Among the benefits of the summer camp program for the older youth is its Teens in a Leadership program in which the youth who had attended the camp for several years as children are put into mentorship roles providing the younger children a positive role model to look up to. 


Instead, this year, these promising teens will be contributing to their community through service projects, such as delivering food boxes door-to-door to senior citizens and the disabled this summer. 


 When a partner inquired as to whether we had much-in-demand face masks, it turned out that we had a few thousand on hand which we could provide them. 


 While non-perishable food boxes will always be in demand, we are also receiving numerous requests from our partners for soap and other personal hygiene items, as well as disposable diapers.  So, we have adjusted our focus as well and will soon be shipping thousands of bars of soap, diapers and other items in the knowledge that sadly, this is likely just the beginning of a long, difficult summer. 


None of what we do, and a lot of what our partners do, would be possible without the generosity of Americans Helping Americans whose support we, and our partners and their clients, rely on month after month, year after year. 


These are uncharted waters, but with your help, we are helping thousands of our fellow Americans steer their way through the storm and make it the calmer waters we have faith are coming in the months to follow.