Event raises more than $86,000

For a few minutes that mid-August night several Mexico residents felt the thrill known only to the Hollywood elite: a walk down an iconic red carpet. They were attendees of the Audrain County Adopt a Buddy Committee's All-Stars Gala "Walk the Red Carpet" event held Aug. 16 at the Steinman Banquet Hall. About 150 county residents attended the event, which helped raise more than $86,000 to help alleviate hunger among county school children.
Attendees were entertained by the smooth mellow sounds of the "Reality Check" Band consisting of Robert Cortez, Jeff Frazier, Sarah Gleeson, Buck Green, Scott Weber, and Grady Frazier.
The Buddy Pack Program provides a backpack filled with kid-friendly, nutritious food for qualifying students to take home over the weekend or holiday periods to supplement their meals when there is not enough for them to eat at home. This program is a partnership between the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri (TFB; formerly the Central Missouri Food Bank) and five schools in Audrain County: Community R-6 in Laddonia; Eugene Field, Hawthorne, and McMillan elementary schools, and the Early Childhood Center, all of Mexico.
The Audrain County Adopt a Buddy Committee seeks to overcome budget deficits in the Buddy Pack Program with a goal to finance 492 buddy packs for the 2013-2014 school year. The "Walk the Red Carpet" event had a twofold purpose: raise awareness of the ongoing need for donations and support and serve as an annual fundraising drive to help keep the program viable in Audrain County.
'It's an ongoing need," said Rev. Terry Kukuk, Audrain County Adopt a Buddy Committee member. "There is a high number of kids in the area who need them (the packs) on the weekends."
Area residents who were unable to attend the gala but are interested in sponsoring a buddy backpack may still do so. The cost is $15/month or $180/year per buddy backpack with the donation directly benefitting a child in Audrain County. The donation is tax deductible.
Residents can donate by sending checks made payable to Adopt a Buddy to Commerce Bank, 2946 S. Clark, Mexico, MO 65265, or to the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, 2101 Vandiver Dr., Colombia, MO 65202. Please remember to write Audrain County on the memo line of the check.
Residents can also donate online at www.sharefoodbringhope.org/adoptabuddy and indicating Audrain County when marking the donation.
The Audrain County Adopt a Buddy Committee members are Jaye Jackson, Roslyn Dial, Amy Auwater, Ann Jolly, Cara Miller, Beth Colley, Carla Hobbs, Dene Meyers, Phyllis Wirths, Mark DeJaynes, and Kukuk.
Kukuk also says that there is plenty of room for anyone wanting to get involved with the Audrain County Adopt a Buddy Committee and/or assist with the 2014 All-Stars Gala. "This is a labor of love and we welcome any who would are interested in participating."
The 2014 All-Stars Gala is planned for mid-August 2014 with no firm date currently available. Interested residents may contact the First Presbyterian Church, Mexico (581-5689), or Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce (581-2765) for further details.