“We didn’t know what we were going to do, but we couldn’t do that much longer,” Executive Director and Founder Leneda Jones said. When asked about the group’s two greatest needs last year, Jones responded space and transportation. With Mark and Phillip Bozeman stepping up to donate excess space at the back of the Dora Piggly Wiggly, Jones saw one of those needs met last fall. The transportation need was met this week when AT&T Alabama stepped in to donate $5,000 to purchase a small panel truck for the group to use in deliveries.
Terri Williams, regional director of external affairs for AT&T Alabama, said after she spoke to Jones about the group’s needs last year, they were happy to be able to help.
“We are glad that we were able to help,” Williams said. “Figuratively and literally, this puts the spirit of giving in motion. We want to be able to help where we’re the most needed.”
Jones said the panel truck has greatly improved the delivery process, with a ramp to easy loading and unloading and being able to carry all the containers at once, rather than making multiple trips or use multiple vehicles.
“We are just so grateful and blessed by this,” Jones said. “We didn’t have to apply or fill out a grant or anything, they came to us.”
The group is hoping to get the truck painted or wrapped to cover the old bread company logos that currently adorn the sides of the panels, but just having the vehicle has been a major improvement for the group so far.
The nonprofit, started in 2010, provides food to children in the community who are in need by placing a bag of food discretely inside their backpack every Friday afternoon during the school year. The items are single-serving, ready-to-eat items the kids can serve themselves so they don’t go hungry on weekends when they are away from school.
When the group started, they were serving 100 children at Sumiton Elementary/Middle School, but soon grew to cover other elementary schools in Dora, Cordova and Jasper through community donations. The group always has a waiting list of children in need and looks to expand its numbers as well as the schools covered whenever an opportunity presents itself.
“She is definitely filling a need,” Williams said of Jones and the program.
Donations to Backyard Blessings can be made by calling Jones at 544-9094 or sent by mail to P.O. Box 129 Sumiton, AL 35148.