Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress
Local residents will dance, twist and Zumba away Saturday morning as they raise funds for a popular weekend food program for school children.
The H.O.P.E. Center will begin registering participants at 9 a.m. for its first-ever Zumba-thon, said H.O.P.E. Executive Director Allison Hale.
“One of our board members came up with the idea when we talked about ways of raising money for the backpack program, and we thought this would be a fun way of getting people involved,” she said of the popular exercise.
H.O.P.E. does a big fundraising push during the summer so that funds are available for programs such as the backpack program, which provides enough easy-to-prepare, nutritious meals for the weekend for child to eat.
Hale said children are identified by school counselors and teachers as being “too hungry to learn” when they arrive at school each Monday morning. The backpacks are distributed during school breaks and holidays, as well, and the typical backpack contains a variety of items, costing around $4.36 for five pounds of food, she said.
“We've been doing the program for a while now, and $157 will feed one child all the weekends during the school year,” she said. “Last year, we raised enough funds to feed 150 students, but after discussing it, we raised the goal to help 175.”
Registration begins at 9 a.m., followed by the Zumba event until noon, and is open to participants ages eight and older, Hale said.
Tickets are $10 per participant, and can be purchased at the door or in advance by calling H.O.P.E., 903-586-7781.