Students thank commission for support of food program

Published 8:10 pm Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Dozens of children packed into the Dallas County Commission meeting Monday to thank the commission for its support of the Sardis Unity Fellowship Center and the Summer Food Service Program.

Each commission member was presented with a card signed by the children that attended the center’s summer youth program and a basket of goodies.

“I can’t say thank you enough,” program director Linda Cook told the commission.

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“I don’t know about the other programs that you all help, but we truly appreciate those funds. The lunches that the children had every day that they looked forward to, we appreciate that.”

The commission funds the center as well as the program each year, and Cook said she and Connell Towns, former commissioner and executive director for the center, wanted to bring the children to the meeting to show them how much their support is appreciated.

“Our summer program is very, very important for our young people in the Sardis area,” she said. “We had approximately 80-plus children every day during our enrichment program this summer.”

The center was open several weeks during the summer, and children had lunch, as well as several different activities each day to do.

“They had recreation like kickball, basketball and all kinds of activities going on outside,” she said.

“We also had the extension program come in. Mr. [Sean] Lett with the 4-H program came and did 4-H with the boys and girls one day a week.”

Cook said the children didn’t just get to play together. They also learned how to socialize and interact with others.

“They got to learn how to get along with one another. They learned how to come up with solutions for conflicts. They learned how to be respectful and all those kinds of things,” she said. “That’s just a little bit of what they learned, and then they got to play.”

The children also took a trip to Tuskegee University, where they got hands-on experience and learned about farming blueberries.

“Our children got to pick blueberries, they got to learn about farming and how farming has enriched our lives and is a good area to go into as far as educational wise,” Cook said.

Towns said before the center, which is the old Shiloh School, was opened, children did not have any place to go during the summer.

“It means a whole lot to me that we’re able to provide a service to our children during the summer,” he said. “For a while, children got out of school for the summer, and they didn’t have anything to do.”

Towns said he hopes to expand the program next year to las the entire summer instead just a few weeks.

“Sixteen years ago I never dreamed it would turn out to be like this,” Commission Chairman Kim Ballard told Towns.

While a card and a gift basket may seem like a small gesture, Cook said it goes a long way in showing their appreciation and how much the program means to the children.

“I think it really enriched the children’s lives,” Cook said.

“They had something to do, something to look forward to during the summer.”