United Way grants to help feed area children

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

Margaret Sottosanti said a recent grant from the United Way of Greater Atlanta will help her church to provide necessary items for 17 families.

A volunteer purchases goods to be donated to needy children through a United Way grant. Special photo

“Without their grant, we would not have been able to do this,” said Sottosanti, chairperson of the New Beginnings Ministry at St. James the Apostle Catholic Church in McDonough. “Most of these families had children. In some cases, there were six children in one family. It was very instrumental. We gave them a lot of groceries. We didn’t spend it all, so we’re going to monitor those families, and in the months to come, we’ll respond to their needs.”

She added that the 14 church volunteers who helped to distribute items to those families were “humbled” by the experience.

United Way of Greater Atlanta is reaching out to the Henry County community in an effort to provide food and clothes for children. Additional churches receiving grant funds include Shiloh Baptist Church, also in McDonough, as well as North Henry Baptist Church in Stockbridge, Hampton First Baptist Church and First Baptist Church of Locust Grove.

The organization recently issued grants to support programs at five local churches, said United Way’s Regional Director, Shane Persaud.

“In response to the higher number of children in our school system who rely on programs such as Back Pack Buddies in order to have food over the weekends and on school breaks, we have partnered up with five local churches who serve some of these kids and their families,” said Persaud. “United Way in Henry County has awarded local grants of $2,200 to each of the five partner churches so that they can continue to operate programs that provide food to children over the Christmas holidays and for the rest of the school year. Some of the children who are being served live with their families in extended-stay motels and other temporary situations.”

United Way of Greater Atlanta serves 13 counties, of which Henry, Butts, and Rockdale counties make up the southeast region. Advisory boards for each county, said Persaud, are responsible for making sure that funds are reinvested and aligned with county priorities regarding income, health, education, homelessness and basic needs.

United Way in Henry County is also teaming up with the Warm & Toasty campaign spearheaded by the McDonough Junior Women’s Club. Persaud heaped praise on the Junior Women’s Club for their collective desire to provide for families who need it.

“It is such an amazing campaign, and we had tons of stuff in our office that we divided among the five churches because of the generosity of the Warm & Toasty campaign,” said Persaud.

For more information on United Way visit their website at http://211online.unitedwayatlanta.org/