Radford elementary school opens its doors to anyone in need, despite being closed

RADFORD, Va. – On Friday at McHarg Elementary School, the doors were closed because of the cold weather, but they were opened for the community and the students' families who need a warm place and a hot meal.

This is the first time the school has hosted an event like this, with activities and food for all.

Anna Vaughn, a parent and staff member at the elementary school, says that everyone needs a gift sometimes.

“I say take advantage of it. Put your pride aside and just come out,” said Vaughn.

The school also put into action its Bobcat Backpacks weekend food program. This program provides food to be taken home every weekend during the school year and summer for children in need.

Due to the closing, because of the cold weather, volunteers made home deliveries to families that requested the extra help, including Charlene Jones, a recipient of the Bobcat Backpacks program. 

“It’s hard sometimes for me to make it through the month and when they send that home with the extra food for the weekends to help us get through,” said Jones. “I have three kids, so this is very important to me.”

The food program has been going on for two years in the Radford public schools.

McHarg Elementary School is one of 130 participating in this program. Sixty percent of its students are on the reduced or free lunch program. 

Jenny Riffe, a parent and co-founder of the Bobcat Backpacks program, says that the purpose is to provide food for their students when they aren't in school.

“We know when school is closed because of cold weather they are still hungry that breakfast and lunch that is served here is needed,” said Riffe.

Due to the closing of the school because of the cold weather, volunteers were able serve and deliver 115 meals to the community.

Jones says she keeps her daughter in McHarg Elementary because of the help from volunteers.

“It is very important to me,” said Jones. “I think it’s great that the community comes together and does this.”