Granny Fund continues to feed ES school children
By Samantha Jones
The Granny Fund began providing hot meals for Eureka Springs school children in 2017 and it has only gained steam since then.
Granny Fund organizer Jay Wilks remembered how the fund got started, saying he was one of many locals who were appalled to learn students who can’t pay for a hot meal are given a cold sandwich in the lunch line. Wilks said he teamed up with former Eureka Springs residents Joyce and Eric Knowles to start the Granny Fund.
“It started as an online fundraiser and there were several different drop-off points,” Wilks said. “People could bring it to me where I work, the Eureka Market or drop it off at the high school. In a short amount of time, we raised enough money to cover all the kids’ lunches that were behind and have a bit of a reserve.”
Wilks said Eureka Springs High School counselor Rachal Hyatt has been extremely helpful with the project, saying she keeps in contact with Wilks on how the fund is doing. Thanks to Hyatt’s communication, Wilks said, he knew to push for more donations at the end of 2018. That fundraising campaign brought more than $10,000 to the Granny Fund, Wilks said. Today, he said, the fund has just over $7,000.
“The money’s been spent wisely by the school,” Wilks said.
Hyatt said she’s grateful for the community’s help.
“We very much appreciate the donations from the community to the Granny Fund,” Hyatt said. “Many families often find themselves in hard times for one reason or another, and in true Eurekan style, we are always there for one another.”
Wilks said it’s easy for wages to fluctuate when you’re working in a tourist town.
“Sometimes the tips are great,” Wilks said. “If it’s really slow, sometimes people’s hours get cut. A child may need it one month and the next month they may not.”
Wilks said he’s been amazed by the community’s generosity.
“The community has been fantastic. People are still going by and dropping money off at Cornerstone to the Granny Fund,” Wilks said. “It’s fantastic, because that’s what the kids need. They need a hot meal. You don’t know if they’re getting one at home. It may be their only meal of the day.”
Wilks thanked Flint Street Fellowship for offering the Backpack Program to local students, saying that program assures that students in need will have a meal every weekend. Through the program, students receive backpacks full of food for the weekend. Those who would like to donate to the program can contact Flint Street Fellowship at 479-253-9491.
Wilks said those who would like to donate to the Granny Fund can do so by stopping by any Cornerstone Bank location. The Granny Fund has been so successful, Wilks said, that he’s received messages from people in other cities asking how they can start a similar program in their community.
“Once again, Eureka’s leading the way,” Wilks said. “We’re the first city in Arkansas to implement a fundraiser to make sure all the kids are fed.”
Hyatt said the school district is thankful for the program.
“This account is vital to many students in our district and assures that every student has a regular meal throughout the school year,” Hyatt said.
“It’s so important that every child has a hot meal,” he said.