Country Superstars Little Big Town Join the Fight to End Child Hunger

I don’t think the numbers will ever stop being a shock to me.

One in Five.

I don’t think it will ever NOT hurt my heart to know there are millions of children right here in the United States who are hungry.

Nearly 17 million.

Unless of course, that number changes.

But it will only change if you and I do something.

I know that is asking a lot.  You likely have small people to feed.  And the holidays are coming.

And I bet you have charities that are close to your heart.

And, of course there is Sandy. Such a tragedy that I can even refer to her without including the ‘Hurricane’ and you still know what I’m talking about. So many of us have given to Sandy – and so many of our local food banks have chipped in, that the holidays will likely be tighter than normal.

But I still think it is important for you to KNOW child hunger is a problem. Even if you can’t help right now, you can tell someone else who can. Spreading the word? That helps.  Because this is important to me, because I think about how lucky we are every time I pack my children’s lunch for school or make them a meal, I’ve partnered, once again with Con Agra Foods and Child Hunger Ends Here.

I spent a few days this week in Nashville, visiting the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and talking with Child Hunger Ends Here’s latest advocates, country superstars (and now two-time CMA winners) Little Big Town. This group is involved, because, like me, they ache at the thought of children waking up, trying to learn, or going to bed hungry.

Together we packed backpacks for the Food Bank’s backpack program. There are 8500 kids in the program. Eight-thousand-five-hundred kids in a 46-country area.  And after the first of the year, that number will increase by 15% because the Food Bank has received a grant from WalMart.

Think about that: 8500 kids already and there are MORE in need.

How can you help if you are so inclined:

* Donate food to your local food bank – proteins and shelf stable foods are always in need.

* Donate money. According to Feeding America $1 is equivalent to 8 meals. THINK ABOUT THAT. If we gave the change in our cars each week, we’d provide at least 8 meals.

* Volunteer – Your local Food Banks can always use help….some will allow you to bring your kids at certain times.  Just call and ask. If you are looking for other ways to teach your children to give back, start here.

* Talk about it – It may sound too easy, but educating people about this problem…telling them there are simple ways to help – it all makes a difference.

I was delighted to interview Little Big Town about their involvement in this campaign.  I’m excited to share it with you soon.

 As I have in the past, I have partnered with Con Agra Foods and Child Hunger Ends Here, though all thoughts and opinions shared here are my own.
Photo Courtesy: AP

 

Here’s Hope: My Belief We Can Fight Child Hunger

My small girl is in third grade.  She has a little brother she adores; most of the time.  They fight like most siblings do, but if you were to ask her what her about ‘rule #1′, she’ll look you firmly in the eye and say, ‘Keep Coopy safe’.  One of these days, it won’t be ‘cool’ for her to call him ‘Coopy’, but for now, I can tell he loves that she has a special name for him.  And? He loves her.

In their sweet and sheltered world keeping him safe means getting him an ice pack when he hits his head, reminding him to pack a snack for school, including him when her friends are around, putting an arm around him during the ‘scary part’ of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and offering the evil eye to anyone who dares to comment on his longer blond hair with anything but admiration.

She doesn’t have to sacrifice a portion of her dinner so her brother can eat. She doesn’t take care of him while I or my husband work two jobs to make sure there is food in our home.  Hunger isn’t a problem they know. And for this, I am grateful.  But I’m also deeply aware of food insecurity and how it effects so many children in our country.

I was reminded of this again tonight by something so simple: a song.  Back in April, I was lucky enough to hear country music artists Little Big Town perform the song Here’s Hope live at the Academy of Country Music Awards. They performed the song during the Lifting Lives Moment – bringing awareness to the epidemic of Child Hunger right here in the United States. I spent time on the Red Carpet at the ACM’s asking artists about the power of hope and music and the beauty of LBT singing this song.  I also interviewed Hunter Hayes, the artist who wrote the song about WHY this song resonates as it does.

One in five children are hungry.

I will say it again: 1 in 5 children are hungry.

Tonight, I stumbled across this video on YouTube. As I had HOPED they would, Little Big Town has recorded their version of the song.  And it is magic. I sat with my small people tonight, crying (yes, I did) and listening to it over and over again.

In the second verse…. “There’s a small town girl in the third grade, makin’ sure that her sister gets enough… ”  I looked first to my small girl and then to my small dude and my heart broke a little, for what we have, for what other children don’t and with gratitude that we can help.

For the better part of the past four years, I have worked with Con Agra Foods and their program Child Hunger Ends Here, and while I’m not in the midst of a campaign at the moment, I feel compelled to share this video with you…. I hope you can take a few minutes to get lost in its beauty, to absorb its message.

Maybe it will inspire you to donate a few dollars to your local food bank, to start a food drive at your children’s school, to fill backpacks for a local program, or simply to pass it on.

The inspiration behind ‘Here’s Hope’ is just that – hope that we can make a difference, even a little bit at a time.

Thank you for joining me.  I’m grateful.  And somewhere there is a 3rd grader who is as well.

Hunter Hayes talks ACM’s and Writing “Here’s Hope” for Child Hunger

I’ve always believed it is one of my primary responsibilities to teach my kids to ‘give back’…. to understand that there are people, kids especially,  who have greater needs than them.  Some kids don’t have toys, or clothes…. and they don’t have enough food.  A few years ago, my small people and I held a Lemonade Stand to raise money for Child Hunger.  I was so proud of how they embraced the project.

I suspect emerging Country superstar and Academy of Country Music New Artist of the Year Nominee, Hunter Hayes was rasied with the same type of empathy because when asked to join Con Agra Food’s Child Hunger Ends Here Campagin, he didn’t hesitate.

In fact… the song that is the crux of the campaign, “Here’s Hope” is what Hunter calls his “1/2 hour song” since it  took barely longer than that for he, Barry Dean and Luke Laird to write it.

While at the ACM’s in Las Vegas, Hunter and I sat down to chat about writing the song and how it feels to be nominated as ‘ACM New Artist of the Year’.

[Read more...]

Dream Come True: I’m Covering The Red Carpet At The Academy Of Country Music Awards

Sometimes dreams do come true.

If you know anything about me at all, you know I love to use video as a way to tell stories.  You might even know that I used to be a TV reporter and anchor.  If you know that, you might also know that I don’t do traditional news anymore because I don’t have the stomach for ‘hard news’.

I’m more of a ‘good news’ kind of girl.  I want to hear your happy story.  I want to know how you are making a difference, creating change, enjoying life and living.  I want to be smiling and laughing as I tell stories. Or?  If I’m crying… it is because I believe there is CHANGE coming.

I dream of having my own TV show.  I dream of interviewing people and telling stories every day.

I dream of ‘giving good’ and raising small people who are learning by example.

And?  I dream of the Red Carpet.

Next Sunday, a beautiful combination of those dreams will come true.

I will be on the Red Carpet at the Academy of Country Music Awards, representing the Lifting Lives Moment of the ACMs which is dedicated to Con Agra Food’s newest campaign for Child Hunger Ends Here: Here’s Hope.  The song, “Here’s Hope” will be performed during this portion of the ACMs.

The song is gorgeous. It was co-written by New Artist of the Year Nominee, Hunter Hayes.  (who, at the moment, has a date with me for an interview) For now, I’m going to let it be a surprise just WHO will be performing the song during the Awards.  You will have to watch to see.  And I will move my happy self from the Red Carpet to Backstage to keep you updated on the action via video, Twitter and Facebook.

You may or may not know, this is the fourth time I’m proud to be partnering with Con Agra Foods and Child Hunger Ends Here to fight what I consider to be an epidemic.

16 million children right here in the U.S. are hungry.

Here’s Hope will help to feed those children.  I know it in my heart.  As part of the campaign, three versions of the song have been recorded by amazing artists:  Jewel, Owl City and Jay Sean.  The songs can be downloaded for free at ChildHungerEndsHere.com in conjunction with participating Con Agra Food brands.  When you purchase one of the foods, you will simply head to the site, enter a code from the item and download your favorite version (I LOVE THEM ALL).

When you enter that code – ONE MEAL IS DONATED TO A CHILD IN NEED.

Easy-peasy.

Now, you don’t need to wait until the Academy of Country Music Awards next weekend to participate (kids need food now), BUT this will be your first opportunity to hear Here’s Hope performed LIVE.

And I’m honored I will be there as a correspondent for the entire event.

Now… switching gears a touch – I DO need your help.

I’ve never dressed for the Red Carpet before and I need a dress.  Will you help me choose?  I’ve narrowed the options from my good friends at Rent The Runway.  If you haven’t been to visit them, you must.  Instead of BUYING an expensive dress – you rent one for about 10% of the price.  One of my best friends from college turned me on to them. (Let me know if you want an invite – when I send you one, it gets you a $20 credit).

Ok – so…. here are my options – I’m going to order on Monday.

YIGAL AZROUËL

Selma Gown

CARLOS MIELE

Draped Sapphire Dream Gown

NICOLE MILLER

Drop Dead Gold Gorgeous Gow…

MATTHEW WILLIAMSON

Artemis Chiffon Gown

BADGLEY MISCHKA

Faye Chiffon Gown

NARCISO RODRIGUEZ

Cobalt Cutout Gown

Sooooo… what do you think.  Your favorite is….??

Disclosure:  I have a professional realtionship with Con Agra Foods and Child Hunger Ends Here, though that relationship does not dictate my thoughts or opinions.  I will always be passionate about the epidemic of Child Hunger. And? I will always be a lover of the Red Carpet and Country Music.