Gov. Robert Bentley presented an award to Leneda Jones, founder and executive director of Backyard Blessings, during a ceremony in Montgomery Wednesday.
Jones said she was honored that the program received the accolade.
“My hope for this award is that it will bring more attention to the cause and help feed more children in Walker County,” she said.
Backyard Blessings, a Sumiton-based non-profit group, provides 189 students with bags of food every Friday of the school year. The bags are discretely placed in each child’s backpack during the day.
Backyard Blessings provides $1,000 worth of food each week to hungry children attending Sumiton Elementary/Middle and T.S. Boyd Elementary schools.
“Leneda Jones is to be commended for seeing a need in her community and having the self-determination and compassion to meet that need,” Bentley said in a statement. “The Backyard Blessings program is comprised of neighbor helping neighbor and represents the best of Alabama. I am very proud to know that people like Leneda are willing to make a difference in the lives of their community.”
Jones was nominated for the governor’s award by Sen. Greg Reed (R-Jasper), who will serve as chairman for a new festival in Sumiton celebrating Backyard Blessings.
“Certainly I’m honored to be involved with that program,” Reed said. “I know they do great work with the people of that community.”
Jones said Reed and Debora Garrison, an organizer of the Sumiton Frog Festival, approached her about creating an event to raise funds and bring awareness for Backyard Blessings.
“In order to do what we do, it cost a lot of money,” Jones said.
Admission for the festival is free, and representatives with the program will collect donations at the event.
The Backyard Blessings Family Festival will be held Saturday, July 30, at 6 p.m. at the Sumiton Community Center located behind Wal-Mart.