By Kim Walter
FRONT ROYAL -- Thanks to a recent donation from the Front Royal/Warren County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 33, more students will have food for the weekend and basic materials to keep them warm this winter.
While the local Fraternal Order of Police has made sizeable donations already this year to a variety of organizations, member and Warren County Deputy Sheriff Eddie Long said the most recent donations were important.
On Thursday afternoon, he presented two $1,500 checks to the Weekend Fuel Program at Warren County Middle School and to the Skyline High School Indigent Fund.
The middle school program provides a bag of food to students who would otherwise go without. The program will take food donations, but appreciates funds so that specific items can be bought.
The high school's indigent fund helps any student in need by providing shoes, coats, blankets or even assistance to an entire family, if necessary.
Andrew Keller, Skyline's principal, said there is plenty of need in his school, as well as around the county.
"You know, 35 percent of our students qualify for free and reduced lunch," he said. "We know our kids pretty well, so when we see a need, we do everything we can to help."
He said the school is thankful for the $1,500 contribution, but it will likely be dispersed quickly.
Patty Hite, counseling office secretary at Warren County Middle School, founded the Weekend Fuel Program three years ago. This is the second year that the Fraternal Order of Police has made a monetary donation to the program.
"Right now we're serving about 15 to 20 students each weekend," she said. "But, I think that number will only grow as we get further into the school year."
The bags of food include two main entrees, drinks, snacks, fruits and vegetables.
Teachers, counselors or other staff members who pick up on an issue recommend students for assistance.
"It's not like these kids want everyone to know that they are hungry, or need help," Hite said. "We try to keep it as low key as possible before and after the weekends."
The $1,500 will go a long way for the program, and Hite said it will make it easier to buy food for certain students with allergies or dietary restrictions.
Long said the local Fraternal Order of Police has already donated $11,000 to area organizations in 2013. Most contributions go toward assisting the "community's most vulnerable," -- youth and senior citizens.
"I believe it is our responsibility to look out for these groups of individuals," he said. "We believe in the programs we give to, and personally I refuse to see anybody, any child, go hungry."
The lodge holds fundraisers throughout the year in order to make donations to deserving area programs. The group takes requests as well.
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org