It didn’t take Lakeside High School senior Wade McNeal long to decide what he would do for his senior class project.
“I have grown up all my life watching my family do things to help others,” he said. “So I knew I wanted to do something to help our community, specifically homeless children.”
Since the beginning of the school year, Wade has been organizing a concert that will benefit Golden Harvest Food Bank’s Backpack Program.
“The program provides food to children who are at risk of going without food over the weekend,” said Nathan Krupa, the grants officer for Golden Harvest.
Nearly 2,000 children throughout the 30-county service area benefit from the program. About 440 of those children are in Columbia County.
“There’s a lot of poverty, surprisingly so, in Columbia County,” Krupa said.
“When most people think of the word ‘homeless,’ they think about someone out on the street,” said Wade, the son of Golden Harvest Executive Director Travis McNeal.
He learned through his research that people who live in safe houses, rescue missions or shelters also are considered homeless.
Seventy percent of them are children, according to Action Ministries of Augusta, a nonprofit that helps individuals and families establish permanent housing.
Golden Harvest has partnered with Columbia County Cares and area churches to pack and deliver supplemental food to schools each week.
The children who receive the food fall 130 percent or more below the poverty line and many receive free or reduced lunch. Volunteers and teachers discreetly place food in children’s backpacks at the end of each week.
It costs $5 to provide food for one child each week, or $160 for one child for a year. The program is funded entirely by donations.
Wade hopes the concert will raise a lot of money for the program.
The concert will take place Friday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Warren Baptist Church in Simmons Hall.
“We’re going to have some local musicians playing all kinds of acoustic music,” Wade said.
Tickets are $7 and can be purchased at the door. Admission includes light refreshments.