Ending hunger one child at a time: Gumdrops provides non-perishable food items for kids

By Bethany Rentfro, Staff Reporter

Gumdrops is a charitable organization that provides weekend packages of child-friendly, non-perishable food items to at-risk children in the area. 

Ron Simpson and his wife, Amy created Gumdrops for Kids in January 2008 through their church because they wanted to find a way to help kids in the community who are struggling with hunger.  

Ron said Gumdrops started out in the Carterville school system, feeding about 12 students per week and once other schools heard of the program, they quickly reached out to Gumdrops. 

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 “All the schools started calling us about it and now we pack about 1,500 backpacks for 36 schools in the area,” Ron said. 

Some of the schools that receive these food packages are Carterville, Johnston City, Marion, the Carbondale Boys & Girls Club, Murphysboro, Unity Point and Giant City. 

(See More: List of Schools helped by Gumdrops)

 Volunteers from church groups, student organizations and community members gather three days out of the week to help pack bags.  Amy said it doesn’t take too long to complete the process. 

“We usually pack about 500 bags every time and it only takes about an hour to complete the packing process,” Amy said. 

Tabitha Koch, a student at SIU said she was required by her RSO last year to do community service hours.

 “We are required to do community service and I think it is a great way to serve the community.  I like that we get to work as a team to help people.” Koch said. 

Gumdrops holds several fundraisers each year and has received sizable donations; Ron said Subaru donated over $7,000 to the organization a few years ago.  

“It’s really surprising in a small area like this how you could get supported by so many different people,” Ron said. 

According to a release on the Gumdrops website, WoodmenLife Chapter 50 of Carbondale presented $1,000 of photo contest winnings to Gumdrops, after taking third place in the national Hunger Fighting Hero photo contest. 

 Gumdrops provides this service to help enhance the quality of life for at-risk children in southern Illinois, according to their website. The volunteers pack every Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. and Tuesday and Wednesday nights at 6:30 p.m.

The Simpsons said monetary donations are always needed for the purchase of food items. Donations of food items are also welcomed and accepted and can be dropped off at the packaging facility in Carterville. 

Ron  said people can donate to this organization through their website and via PayPal or they can also donate their time by helping to pack bags.

Anyone who is interested in volunteering is asked to contact Ron or Amy Simpson at their Carterville packaging facility at 618-319-3828.

Staff reporter Bethany Rentfro can be at [email protected].

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