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Friday, November 22, 2013

The Bright Futures program at the Cassville R-4 School District in need of volunteers for their lunch buddy program. This program is currently offered for students in grades three through five who may need someone to just listen and visit.

"We're looking for volunteers to partner with a child who may need someone to visit with -- to brighten up their day a bit," said Melanie Stringer, middle school principal, who also serves as one of the coordinators for the program.

Volunteers may make a commitment for one day a week, one day every other week or whatever they would feel comfortable, according to Stringer, who sees this program as a great opportunity for members of the community to live out the Bright Futures' motto to "Give every child, every chance."

Interested individuals may volunteer for the program by calling Stringer at 847-3136, or Jill LeCompte, assistant superintendent of the school district, at 847-2221. Tracey Buntin is a member of the community who is volunteering her time to liaison with the school district and set up the calendar of volunteers.

Stringer is hoping for a strong showing of support from the community -- support that would allow the district to reach more kids who may need their days brightened in other grade levels.

The Bright Futures program at the Cassville R-4 School district is affiliated with the national Bright Futures program headquartered in Joplin. The program has been in Cassville since the fall of 2012, and its main goal is to improve the lines of communication between the schools and people in the community who want to help. There are currently 20 school districts involved in the program in Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas and Virginia.

The local organization has been involved in a variety of activities in the little over a year since its inception. Some, such as the shoe drive, have involved the entire community while others have quietly helped individuals in need. The Cassville Ministerial Alliance provides door greeters at the school every morning.

Student groups have also been involved with the FFA and the FCCLA collecting items to be distributed. Stringer sees student involvement to be a crucial component of the program.

In addition to seeking volunteers, the program continues to ask people to donate shoes, which is currently the greatest need in the community. Stringer asks that all shoes be new in quality and adds that donations can be dropped off at the middle school office.

Stringer believes that "paying it forward" is an important concept that guides the program and that payment can come in such non-monetary means as time and talents. She's hoping that many community members will step up to give of their time to become a buddy and improve the life of a child.

"We appreciate the support of every community member who is willing to give of their time for our students," said Stringer. "That's what it's all about for us, and it's very much appreciated."

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