‘Kare & Serve’ does just that for Tuscola County kids

(Photo by John Cook)
Volunteers gathered at the Frankenmuth Bible Church’s Welcome Center to fill bags with food items for Tuscola County students in need on Sunday. The “Snack Packs” program is one of five programs founded by Kare & Serve Inc., which focuses on helping children in Tuscola County. Volunteers on Sunday included, from left, Sue Burns, Lori Malochleb, Pam Wanless, Hannah Ketelhut, Ellenore Pringle, Max Sharp, Sara Woolwine and John Steinfort.

If Tuscola County residents appreciate the 112 bags of free food packed Sunday at Frankenmuth Bible Church and distributed free to Tuscola County students this week, there’s more good news.

The “Snack Packs” program founded by the faith-based volunteer group Kare & Serve Inc. that provided the free food is only one of a number of programs developed by Kare & Serve to assist Tuscola County children.

“Over the last year we developed five programs. This is called our ‘Snack Packs’ program where we will be routinely providing meals to Tuscola County students,” said Ellenore Pringle of Frankenmuth, secretary and treasurer of Kare & Serve Inc.

“Kare & Serve conducted a survey in early 2017 of our surrounding communities, and we found that Tuscola County is very underserved as far as basic human resources go, so we decided to focus our energy in that county,” said Pringle, one of four women forming the core group of Kare & Serve.

Others include Kara Showerman of the Vassar area – who joined with Pringle to found the organization – and Lori Malochleb of Frankenmuth and Lindsey Galvas-Mohr of the Millington area.

Kare & Serve Inc., founded in 2015, has formed programs to collect shoes for Tuscola County students, supply students with winter outerwear, provide children with personal-hygiene items and help pay the costs of driver’s training programs. “They have been a phenomenal group of women to work with … and they have really taken our county under their wing, and we do have a lot of need in Tuscola County for these items, for donated goods,” said Angila Heinitz, who works at the Tuscola Intermediate School District in Caro as McKinney-Vento grant coordinator and homeless-student liaison.

“It’s nice to have their support, and their love, for our county residents,” said Heinitz, who arrived Sunday with her husband, Shawn, at the Frankenmuth Bible Church to help load the 112 food bags.

Angila Heinitz is distributing the food bags around Tuscola County this week.

“They have a high homeless student population in Caro, and in Vassar as well,” Heinitz said. “We have homeless-student liaisons in all our school districts, and I ask them if they have the need, and if they do, I deliver to them.”

Pringle said Kare & Serve members “spent the last year really focusing in on our purpose, and coming up with these five annual programs.”

Pringle added that “We’re looking to network with more people in Tuscola County if we can.”

Group members have made contacts with several Tuscola County leaders involved in education and law enforcement, and with a few businesses, to spread word of their programs and find service projects to help Tuscola County youths.

The 16 items packed into the food bags Sunday included packages or containers of mini-ravioli, Ramen noodle soup, apple sauce, fruit cups, granola bars, Spaghetti O’s, macaroni and cheese, bags of nuts and candy, and bottled water and juice.

Frankenmuth Bible Church members donated enough food items to boost Sunday’s number of food-filled bags from 60 to 112.

“We included some standard, easy-to-prepare meals in the bags,” Malochleb said. “The thought process was we wanted to assume they had a microwave oven and could self-prepare the food.”

Kare & Serve Inc.’s desire, according to its flier, is to provide Tuscola County students “with a sense of dignity, self-confidence, and focus all while filling the gap that human service programs are unable to meet due to dwindling funds.”

Donors who wish to support the organization can do so by visiting its “Kare & Serve” Facebook page or visiting the website kareandserve.com.

Donors also may make checks payable to “Kare & Serve” and mail them to: Kare & Serve, P.O. Box 213, Frankenmuth, MI 48734.

The organization’s flier states that “Every dollar donated to Kare & Serve goes directly to our programs and recipients.”

Kare & Serve’s annual fundraiser is its “Charity Cornhole Classic,” a cornhole tournament held later this year at the Frankenmuth Farmers Market. Two-person cornhole teams are encouraged to check the group’s Facebook page or website for upcoming information on the tournament.

Though Malochleb lives in Frankenmuth in Saginaw County, she said Kare & Serve members “discovered Tuscola County was greatly in need.”

“Lots of my friends live there and my kids played youth football in Vassar,” she said. “There’s no dividing line. Those are our neighbors.”