Student organization makes giving back rock
UALR ROCKS is a student organization that strives to give back to the community. With various events to achieve this goal, the group was started with the community and poverty in mind.
Craig Hartaway, senior professional and technical writing major, over-sees UALR ROCKS, but there are about 300 students that participate in its mission. Students from different schools assist the organization with their programs, along with the African American Male Initiative, Chancellor’s Leaders Corps and Greek Life organizations.
With the assistance of Victory Praise and Worship church in Jacksonville, Hartaway and his group donated food to about 300 kids at the Boys and Girls Club and the Willow Bend apartments in Jacksonville, with the cooperation of the Department of Human Services.
In 2011 from May to Aug. 13, they helped feed children breakfast and lunch every day, with an all-volunteer staff.
‘The food is purchased by the church and they are reimbursed with the number of names they have, and receive $3.30 per child to feed. They get a lot of food provided by bulk and usually get a count of around 300 kids,” Hartaway said.
According to Hartaway, the church provides vouchers to children to go to the Boys and Girls Club for free since often their parents can’t afford to put them in day care. “Since the Boys and Girls Club know the parents couldn’t afford day care, they allow us to bring food for the kids,” Hartaway said.
It takes almost two vans of food to feed the children, Hartaway said.
After they visit the Boys and Girls Club, they travel to the Willow Bend apartments and set up tents and tables to distribute food. Then they knock door-to-door and ask parents if their kids would like free food.
“Kids would run at full speed, with other kids on their back,” Hartaway said.
For some this might be the child’s only meal of the day. “The older brother would tell the younger ones ‘save some of your food, drink your milk, you’ll get full.’ He’ll let them eat the fruit or maybe the bread, but he tells them not to eat the meat or the snack bar, because they’re going to be hungry later,” he said.
“We tell some kids to go ahead and take some more food because you can tell this is their only meal for the day. The parents might work two jobs and they might just not have anything in the refrigerator, so they come to get food every day. I wish we were allowed to give more,” Hartaway said.