story and photos by Ruby Dean
The Community Service Clearinghouse hosted a dark night performance of the Fort Smith Little Theater's "Little Women."
The event, held Tuesday night (Nov. 13) included refreshments and a silent auction prior to the show. The silent auction included items from Dr. Steven Stiles, Now and Then Shoppe, Inscriptions, John Bell, and many others.
"Items are perfect for Christmas gifts," said Sue Robison, Clearinghouse community relations director.
Tickets were $10 with 150 in attendance. All proceeds from the fundraiser go to the Clearinghouse "Meals for Kids" to help fight childhood hunger in the local public schools.
"The event cost $500 with hopes to raise $2,000,” Robison said.
Rick Foti, Clearinghouse executive director, said working with the Fort Smith Little Theater is “a great way for people to feed the hungry while having a good time."
The Community Service Clearinghouse is best known as providers of the Meals For Kids backpack program. The Meals For Kids program serves more than 2,200 children per week. They prepare and distribute nearly 2,500 backpacks of weekend food per week for kids in the area schools.
Teachers and counselors from schools in a seven-county area select students to receive the backpacks on Friday afternoon. The backpacks include such things as juice, cereal, pudding and fruit cups. Some source of protein like meat sticks or Vienna sausages, as well as crackers and treats are also included. The program costs $360,000 per year to operate. The Clearinghouse is constantly in need of funds from donors to keep the program going.
One of those attending the dark night event was Mario Landeros. He is walking across America for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He started his journey in Los Angeles seven months ago. All of his gear needed along the way is stored in a bike trailer stroller. He walks approximately 25 miles a day. He finds places to stay by looking on couchsurfing where many households have offered their couch for him to sleep on.
Landeros said, "I think kids should be given a second chance at life. I don't like seeing them lose their life too soon. I remember when I was little and had dreams and think all kids should be able to live out their dreams." To read more about Landeros' journey, link on his Facebook page.