CCISD receives $9,000 donation for Angel Fund

By BRITTANY FHOLER 

Cove Leader-Press 

 

Earlier this month, the Ted Smith Law Group donated more than $9,000 to the Copperas Cove Independent School District to go towards the district’s Angel Fund, which helps cover student meal debt.

The law firm was recognized with a plaque for their donation at the district’s Board of Trustees meeting last Tuesday, when Raymond Panneton accepted the plaque on behalf of the Ted Smith Law Group. 

CCISD Superintendent Joe Burns shared how the Ted Smith Law Group had put out a fundraising challenge to local organizations and other law firms and ended up raising approximately $9,000, $5,000 of which came directly from the folks at Ted Smith Law Group. 

“We are very proud to have partners not just here in Copperas Cove but around the area who are very concerned and very supportive of activities that benefit the students,” Burns said. “That [money] goes directly to our Angel Fund in Child Nutritional Services and that ensures that every kid- we’re going to always feed a full meal- but that ensures that Melissa Bryan doesn’t go into the red in certain cases.”

Child Nutrition Director Melissa Bryan was present at the meeting as well and shared her gratitude with Panneton.  

The district serves on average 5,940 free meals per day, both breakfast and lunch, according to Bryan. 

The district does not refuse a child a meal, but if a child had no money in their account and could not afford to pay for their meal, their account would go into the negative. 

During a normal school year, accounts that go into the negative can go anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000, Bryan said. 

The Child Nutrition Department is funded separately from the district’s Maintenance and Operations Fund, and many times the district has had to reallocate funds from its other funds to cover the debt in the Child Nutrition Department fund. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a waiver from the USDA, all meals are at no cost to the students currently through June 2021. 

“Since we did not make the change to free meals with the waiver until the middle of September, we had some students who had already charged meals and went into the negative,” Bryan said. “So, by using the donated Angel Fund, we are able to apply to those accounts and help the families not have to worry about that balance. With some of the funds that were just donated, we were able to help the accounts of 208 students.”

Panneton said that the law firm wanted to do something to generate buzz at the beginning of the school year and approached the district’s Communications Director Wendy Sledd, who let them know about the Angel Fund. 

 “You know, a lot of people do a fill the bus campaign,” Panneton said. “We were wanting to do something that had a little more of an impact.”

Panneton said his wife was a teacher at a Title I school in Houston and would frequently talk about kids who would come to school hungry. 

“Hunger knows no race,” Panneton said. “Hunger knows no socioeconomic class, and so when I heard Wendy mentioned this program and the wonderful work that the district does in turning no student away from a hot meal, I knew that’s what we had to invest our time and our money into.”

He added that it was an easy choice to make to fundraise and donate to the Angel Fund. 

“If we don’t feed these kids, they’re certainly not going to be apt to learn, so this is an absolutely important program, and the district is doing a tremendous job with this,” Panneton said. 

Bryan said that this was a wonderful gesture that is very much appreciated. 

“What this means is that at the end of the year when monies cannot be collected for this debt, the CCISD general fund normally pays those amounts to the Child Nutrition Department due to our regulations, so this helps lessen that amount,” Bryan said. “It is a very good cause that helps the kids in our community. Sometimes people are asked for donations or they send them off, and they really do not know exactly where that money ends up, but with these donations there is an assurance that it is helping the kids, the students, the families of our community, investing in their future.”

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