BY LEANN DILBECK –
Approximately $28,000 in cash, pledges and food donations were raised during the first annual Pulse Multi-Media Harvest of Hope Radiothon to benefit the Mena Lioness Lions Food for Kids Backpack Program. The event was held on Friday, December 4, and included community partnerships with James Super Save Foods and Walmart for hosting live broadcasts from their stores as well as Washburn’s Home Furnishings who donated trucks to receive the food donations. The radiothon was simulcast across KENA 104.1FM and KQOR 105.3FM.
“This was such an incredible collaboration of our media, school officials, volunteers and our amazingly generous community who always ‘steps-up’ when there is a need,” said Pulse Multi-Media General Manager LeAnn Dilbeck. “It is such a true testament of the close-knit community in which we live and their generous nature to invest in our local children. We applaud you Polk County and sincerely thank you for your support!” Dilbeck committed Pulse Multi-Media’s continued support of this program and that the radiothon will become an annual event held prior to Thanksgiving.
This is only the third year for the Food for Kids Backpack Program in Polk County, which services all three districts in the county. The Mena Lioness Lions took the project on in its conception and partnered with the Arkansas Rice Depot, that through buying in bulk, truly maximizes each dollar raised. In a very short time of raising funds and awareness within the local community, Brandi Johnston, spokesperson for the Arkansas Rice Depot, considers Mena a “model” community, saying, “Mena is a model community. I am constantly bragging on the work that is done there. It is our hope that other cities would be encouraged and challenged to follow suit. Children all across your county are assured they will have food every weekend because of the effort of Harvest of Hope. It is an honor to serve hungry kids with you. Thank you for calling in, for caring enough to give. Arkansas Rice Depot could not continue in our mission of feeding the hungry without you.”
Through the Backpack Program, children are able to take a backpack of ‘kid-friendly, ready-to-eat or simple-to-prepare’ food home with them from school each week to give them something to eat on the weekends while away from school. Not only does it give the student food to eat, they also have food for younger siblings that have not reached school age. Most of the kids they serve get free or reduced lunches at school, but the struggle comes on the weekends, and over holiday breaks. “Most kids get really excited about breaks from school but for the kids on our program, that’s a very troubling thought, that they’re not going to get regular food. The backpacks and meal kits fill that need,” shared Paulette Sherrer of Mena Public Schools.
“We were grateful to have long-time radio friend and experienced radiothon personality Sue Cavner join Mark Hobson in the studio,” said Dilbeck. Melanie Buck and Debbie Frost broadcast from James Super Save Foods while LeAnn Dilbeck and Jaclyn Rose broadcast from the Mena Walmart Supercenter. “We actually thought by broadcasting from those locations, people would feel encouraged to pick up the recommended items while they were doing their own shopping… well, we had droves of people showing up just to shop for this radiothon! One lady just pulled up with an entire cart rounded over and said ‘here you go!’ It was awesome to watch Polk County kick in!, said Dilbeck. She also expressed her appreciation to the entire Pulse crew, “The rest of our team worked at the station with Lioness volunteers taking phone pledges and cash donations. I am blessed to get to work with this team who serves this community with such heart!”
Lioness Patty Young, who has chaired the Food for Kids Backpack Program since it began in Polk County, was equally overwhelmed and thrilled with the support received. “Our community has overwhelmingly embraced our hungry children. Through their generosity these donors have positively impacted the life of a child and invested in their future. We thank everyone for their support, especially LeAnn Dilbeck, her staff at Pulse Multi-Media and Sue Cavner. Without the commitment of these fine people we could not have raised such awareness of hunger outside our backdoor. Most importantly, we appreciate all of our donors and thank each one for their donations! We still have work to do. This one program does not solve the hunger issue facing our community and we must continue to rally for this cause year round. We have numerous churches, local organizations and individuals that do just that. You can continue to help through food drives or monetary donations. We invite you to help stop hunger before it stops laughing and learning.”