Clem’s Sign hosts fourth year of raising funds for Buddy Pack Program 

Clem’s Sign hosts fourth year of raising funds for Buddy Pack Program 

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  • January 25, 2023
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by Danielle Linton-Hatfield/Staff Writer 

“We’ve definitely had more local support than we probably had since our first year,” Mark Clemons with Clem’s Sign said in regard to the Saline County Buddy Pack Program. “Numbers obviously were down … but overall, I mean … we reached our goal personally, so that’s all that really matters I feel like.” 

Going on four years with this project and with the raffles Clemons has held every December — funds raised are always donated to The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri. This year he noted they were able to raise $21,030. 

Darren White, the food bank regional coordinator manager, emphasized the importance of the Buddy Pack Program. He also expressed the continued appreciation for Clemons trying to bring awareness and assist in helping children in Saline County. 

“The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri’s Buddy Pack Program is a program that helps feed hungry elementary school children nutritious meals over the weekend,” White explained. “Buddy Packs are discreet backpacks given out on Fridays or the day before a holiday. For many Buddy Pack students, this food for home is their sole opportunity for food.  This program helps children who are not in a position to help themselves. Throughout The Food Bank’s 32-county service area we are currently serving an average of 7,500 children each week at more than 145 schools. More specifically, we are currently serving 311 children at nine schools within Saline County.”

As Clemons presented White with this year’s check on Thursday afternoon, Jan. 19, he talked about what made the fundraiser the most impactful. Clemons said for him it was people coming in and saying thank you. 

“I’ve never had that before,” Clemons continued. “I’ve had several people this year that literally came into the shop, handed me a check, and said, ‘We don’t want our name in the raffle or anything, we just want to say this is for the kids and thank you for what you’re doing.’ That was huge.” 

Clemons indicated it means more than people think. 

“It’s a lot of work … I probably have a hundred hours in each raffle every year,” he said. “By the time you’re trying to figure out what you’re going to give away — and calling everybody — making sure that they’re going to donate it, then getting everything ready for the raffle … to make sure that the money’s going in the right checking account. It’s a lot of work that I never really planned for, but it’s worth it in the long run.” 

White stated from the $21,030 raised this year the Saline County Buddy Pack Program will help 77 children. He said it costs $270 to provide a child with a pack for the whole school year. 

“My goal going into this year was $10,000 because I just thought — with the way the economy is and everything — that I knew the numbers were going to be way down,” Clemons concluded. “So I figured $10,000 was a realistic goal — and  realistically we raised $11,000 from everybody else because we had one donor that donated $10,000. That was the Rayce Rudeen Foundation — with them it’s the reason we raised $21,000. We still reached our goal even before that, but the Rayce Rudeen Foundation really helped punch it over because — we raised $23,000 in 2020, 2021 we raised $18,000 — it’s hard. You’re not going to do that every year.” 

Residents in Saline County can learn more about the Buddy Pack Program by going to https://sharefoodbringhope.org/buddy-packs.

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