Daily News Tribune Headline August 9th, 2018
Bartow Give A Kid a Chance Serves More Than 1800 at Risk Children
BY MARIE NESMITH
Referring to the program’s success as an answered prayer, Miles Terrell is thrilled to see Bartow Give a Kid a Chance continue to broaden its reach. Now 25, the 2011 Cass High School graduate founded the back-to-school outreach program as part of his Eagle Scout project in 2008. Initially serving 120 Bartow and Cartersville City students, BGAKAC assisted more than 1,800 at-risk youth this year.
“I saw a need in our community and wanted to make a difference, so I acted on my passion for serving others and for the betterment of our community,” said Terrell, referring to assisting parents who are financially unable to purchase school supplies for their children. “I have been very fortunate to have so many people willing to help and serve in our community, and that’s really what has made this program continue to grow into what it is today. I am so thankful for all of the volunteers who continue to give their time each year to make this program happen, and the love and joy that comes from serving these children has resonated throughout this community.
“… It has been an answer to many of my prayers, and has become just what I envisioned it to be. It’s incredible to see the growth and progress each year. I am amazed that this is the 11th year. It has been a blessing to see something I am the founder of continue to grow and impact the children of our community for the better. The fact that this program is now assisting thousands of children is absolutely incredible. I wish I could put into words the great joy this brings to me.”
Currently sponsored by Bartow Collaborative, the program equips children for the first day of school, providing complimentary school supplies and services — valued at nearly $100 per student — at two locations. Along with the Bartow College and Career Academy in Cartersville, BGAKAC also assists youth at the Allatoona Resource Center in Acworth. During this year’s event on July 28, pre-registered students in pre-K through 12th grade received backpacks, school supplies, health screenings, haircuts, books and warm greetings from volunteers and school administrators and teachers.
“I would sum up this year's [BGAKAC] outreach as very successful,” BGAKAC Director Barbara Hoffman said. “Overall, we will have helped prepare over 1,800 at-risk children for their first day of school. This included a free book bag filled with basic school supplies, T-shirt, storybooks donated by the Cartersville Public Library, shampoo, health screenings and an opportunity to meet their school's principal and other staff. There was an excitement and celebratory attitude that began at the front door with Kevin Turner welcoming the families with his trademark smile and humor, to the enthusiasm and affection of school personnel, to the joy on the children's faces when they saw the wide variety of book bags they could choose from this year because of the community's response to our Book Bags & Binders promotion.
“Nearly 1,000 book bags were donated through local congregations, businesses and the general public. I wish everyone who purchased one could have seen these children ‘shop.’ It was the highlight of my day. …Those 1,800 children translate into roughly 900 families who got the opportunity to experience the kind of love and concern we, as a community, have for them.”
Echoing Hoffman’s comments, Kristen Daigle also noted her children, Andre and Fallon, were pleased with the offering’s backpack selection.
“We have used the Give a Kid a Chance about two times,” she said. “The kids loved the backpacks this year. It’s such a fun event. Really helps out when money is tight. I think this is a wonderful program.”
While the July 28 events were BGAKAC’s main component, the program also is supplying school supplies and backpacks to Circle of Advancement’s Summer Send Off — today from 2 to 5 p.m. at 314 N. Bartow St. in Cartersville — and remaining items will help schools re-equip the overall effort’s recipients during the year.
Underscoring the need for this community outreach, Hoffman shared more than 6,000 youth are residing in single parent/fatherless homes, more than 5,500 students live in poverty and 500 children are anticipated to enter school experiencing homelessness.
“Though the United Way of Bartow County had been providing school supplies for several years — and still does through [BGAKAC] — prior to Miles Terrell launching Bartow Give a Kid a Chance in 2008, it was his vision and Eagle Scout project that laid the foundation for what [BGAKAC] has become today,” she said. “I believe that first year they gave out about 100 backpacks, so we have continued to grow and been able to bless increasing numbers of children and families yearly. He and his parents, Terry and Kim Terrell, remain integral parts of our effort, and Miles has indicated he would like to increase his involvement now that he's graduated college. I look forward to that.
“… It takes 10 months of planning and fundraising to pull this all together. We need a team of about 30 who can commit to working and meeting once a month throughout the year, another 25 to volunteer at our annual Reverse Raffle & Spring Picnic [fundraising] event in May, and another 250 the weekend of the event. We strive to raise $35,000 annually through corporate and foundation grants, businesses, churches and individuals.”
Known across the nation, the Give a Kid a Chance program started in 2006 at the Milford Church of God in Austell, Terrell said.
“While working on my Eagle Scout project, I had contemplated many different ideas of what I could do to successfully obtain my Eagle Scout rank, and I wanted to do something that would potentially continue every year, all the while serving and providing for those in my community,” said Terrell, a resident of White. “I was part of a summer lunch program at that time that delivered lunches to the homes of children who were on a free-and-reduced lunch benefit at their schools.
“I had seen firsthand the disadvantage of many children in our community, as well as while I was in school, where our teachers would spend their hard-earned money on supplies, to provide for the children what they didn’t have, and this program alleviates a lot of pressure not only from the parents and children, but the teachers in this community as well.”
He continued, “I always had a passion to help and serve others and always put love first no matter what you do in life, and with all of the prayer and experiences I have had and the research I did on our community at that time, I wanted to design a program that would benefit these children more, especially in school, and give each and every child in the community of Bartow County the same advantage as the other children around them, the same advantage I had to become successful, with a vision that this program will continue each year.”
Volunteering with the BGAKAC over the past decade, Terrell shared the program has had an “extraordinary” impact on his life.
“I am able to serve others and witness the joy it brings to so many children and families in our community, and that is truly what it’s all about — spreading love and creating joy among those around you,” he said. “The most memorable moments I have had from this year’s event and past events have been seeing the willing and loving people of our community come together to serve those around them, and the joy it brings to the children and families we are serving.
“There is always hope, there is always a chance to be successful. I believe everyone should have an equal advantage to do great things with their life, and with the right tools, the drive to succeed, and a passion to help, love and serve others, success is inevitable.”
The slideshow pictures some of our 200+ volunteers, Friday set-up, and glimpses of the events in Cartersville at the Bartow College and Career Academy and in South Bartow at the Allatoona Resource Center.
New this year is SPLASH Bartow’s teens filling 450 bookbags with school supplies at the Good Shepherd Foundation. These bags were used at the Allatoona Resource Center, in the Cartersville City School’s Summer Feeding van delivery, and Summerhill’s Summer Send-Off hosted by Michael Todd Dean Jr. and Circle of Advancement. Thank you to everyone who prayed, gave, worked, and serve.
GKC 2018 helps over 1,800 Bartow children start school better prepared for academic success! Thank you to all our community partners who gave so generously. We could not do it without you!
10th Year of Giving!