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The Kirkwood Call

Kirkwood High School student newspaper

The Kirkwood Call

Kirkwood High School student newspaper

The Kirkwood Call

Charity Issue: Kirkwood cares

Volunteers+at+KirkCare+picks+up+food+drive+items+from+KHS.
Claire krob
Volunteers at KirkCare picks up food drive items from KHS.

Volunteers walk their clients through the newly refurbished food pantry that mimics a grocery store, as grocery carts squeak as they go through the isles, all overseen by the giant black, white and red KirkCare sign. KirkCare, started by the Kirkwood Ministerial Alliance on November 1, 1982, is a non-profit organization that specializes in helping families in the Kirkwood School District (KSD). They provide options for food delivery, in-person shopping and utilities assistance.

“One time [when KirkCare] had a booth at the Greentree Festival, a woman came up and I said ‘we’re the food pantry in Kirkwood,’” Karen Gender, president of KirkCare, said. “She looked right at me and said ‘I know who you are. My husband died unexpectedly, [and] I was left with two little children. I don’t know how we ever would have been able to make it if it weren’t for KirkCare delivering us food.’”

Every year, every school in KSD participates in a food drive that stocks KirkCare’s shelves for months. Kirkwood Service Group, run by Kenzie Boget, science teacher, and Katie Meyers, math teacher, was in charge of running the food drive at KHS this year.

“I always enjoy seeing how excited the KirkCare [volunteers] are when we give them all of the cans,” Meyers said. “While it feels small, [the volunteers] always share how big of an impact the Kirkwood School District has on helping them.”

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Gender said most of the donations to Kirkcare come from the food drives held by KSD. Those donations are taken to their main pantry location, where groups of volunteers sort the cans into bags for delivery, or add them to the shelves in the pantry.

What’s most important is that we only operate on almost all volunteers

— Karen Gender

“What’s most important is that we only operate on almost all volunteers,” Gender said. “It’s a lot of really dedicated volunteers that [help out]. We are very much a grassroots operation.”

Gender attributes KirkCare’s ability to change their setup from only delivery to in-person shopping to the volunteers. She said in-person shopping gives more dignity to their clients, and assures KirkCare that the food will be used. Gender mentioned how KirkCare also recently partnered with Waigand Wheels, an organization started by the Waigand family, to help their son Lance and his friends, all with developmental disabilities, find experiences within the community.

“[The young adults] come in with their partners, and it takes them a long time to pack for one family,” Gender said. “But they do it. It doesn’t matter, we [don’t have anything] frozen, [they] can take as long as [they] want. [Waigand Wheels] are trying to do ten of our deliveries a week. It [gives] a lot of opportunities for people with disabilities.”

Every year, KirkCare has a Christmas holiday box that includes extra food and vouchers for fresh produce and personal care. The KSD food drives are what makes up most of those holiday boxes, and Gender said it’s what makes the holidays so special for their clients.

“We’re always lowest in food around the summertime, because families need more food in the [summer],” Gender said. “Kids aren’t getting breakfast and lunch at school; there’s more food needs at home.”

We’re always lowest in food around the summertime.

— Karen Gender

KirkCare accepts donations year-round. There are red boxes labeled with the KirkCare logo placed around Kirkwood, where food donations can be dropped off. The KirkCare website, kirkcare.org, has more ways to donate.

“A couple of weeks ago, this one woman was shopping, and she said ‘I’m just gonna tell you, this has made all the difference,’” Gender said. “‘[She said] I’ve just finished nursing school, [and] very soon I’m not going to need this help.’”

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Kiley Huang, web design editor
She/Her Hobbies and Interests: writing, theatre, singing, dancing, baking Favorite movie: Do Revenge Favorite Quote: "That it never will come again is what makes life so sweet." -Emily Dickinson
Claire krob, photographer
She/Her Hobbies and Interests: reading, going to concerts, listening to music Favorite movie: 10 Things I Hate About You Favorite Quote: “When you’re lost in the darkness, look for the light” - The Last of Us
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