12 Aug Ohio Families Remind Us Why We Continue to Help
This is Monkey Do Project’s second year stuffing and donating backpacks and working the health fair in Ohio Appalachia. Including last year, we have now provided 2,800 backpacks filled with goodies for Adams County, Ohio, school kids. Last year we filled the backpacks with school supplies and snacks. This year we filled the backpacks with personal hygiene items and snacks.
One of the great things about attending this health fair again for the second year in a row is that we got to see many familiar faces and talk to the kids again. We heard a lot of, “We were hoping Monkey Do would be here again!” and “We couldn’t wait for our backpack this year!” It’s so nice to develop ongoing relationships with amazing families in this area, even if it is just for providing backpacks.
In the scheme of most of our lives, it seems like such a small thing — a backpack filled with some goodies. However, for many of these kids it is a big deal. Some of these families could not afford backpacks for their kids, and if they show up to school without backpacks they get in trouble. Some of the families might not be able to afford hygiene products because they’re too busy focusing on where their next meal comes from. So, while it may seem minor in our lives, giving backpacks with a few extras tucked away inside is huge for many in this area.
Working the health fair also reminds us that the need is so great in this area — from the hungry little girl who ran up to our table, grabbed a granola bar and gobbled it down to a mom who smiled bashfully when we quietly slipped a couple of extra granola bars into her hand so maybe she could have something to eat that night.
At one point, a family with dirty faces and clothes approached our table to get their backpacks. This was clearly a family in need. I don’t know their story — maybe they were homeless or maybe they lived in a home with no running water (neither of which would be unusual in this area) — but I spent some time talking to them, the same way I had talked to many of the families that day, asking questions about summer and returning to school. As the rest of the family moved on to the next table, the dad came back to me and said, “Thank you for being so nice to us.”
You see, sometimes people in need just want a friendly face. They want to be reminded that they aren’t that different from others. They want to be treated like everyone else. They just want their dignity. And, kindness is such an easy thing to provide for people who need it, don’t you think?
Thank you to our corporate partners for helping us on this project: 4Imprint, Nozin, Southern Ohio Medical Center and Oral Health America. But, most of all, thank you to all of our private donors who continue to help us reach Appalachian families.