FITCHBURG (AP) — Karing 4 Kidz will gain national attention in November when Kira Andreucci, the McKay Arts Academy sixth-grader who started the nutrition program, is featured on posters in middle schools throughout the country.
Karing 4 Kidz provides food over the weekend for needy children in the school district.
Jill Lucius, director of nutrition services for Fitchburg Public Schools, nominated Kira last school year for a Sodexo student wellness program called Performance Zone, which recognizes students doing exceptional things in the districts the company serves.
It was the first time Lucius had ever nominated a student from Fitchburg in the five years the program has been running. Kira was chosen by Sodexo to grace the posters. She also received a $500 check toward her efforts, Lucius said.
“We have a great need in Fitchburg, and we have several programs that go on,” Lucius said. “We even have food pantries in some of our schools. We know the need is there, and it’s a great thing that she’s doing — to reach out to her fellow students and help them on the weekends.”
Posters with Kira’s face and a message about caring for her needy fellow students will be placed in all of the middle and junior high schools that Sodexo serves in 480 districts across the country. And because Sodexo tends to deal with larger school districts with more than one middle school, Lucius said, the number of schools she will appear in will likely be at least triple that number.
The posters are already up in Fitchburg, she said, and have been since the start of the school year.
“I felt very happy. I couldn’t believe it,” said Kira, recalling the moment she was told. “It’s like a dream come true for me.”
“I think it’s wonderful,” said her father, John Andreucci. “She’s worked awful hard to achieve what she has, and now we’ve got three schools that we’re going to be doing this year, and I think it’s exciting and she’s excited.”
Kira, 11, started Karing 4 Kidz with birthday money last October. Each Friday for the rest of the school year, she provided what she calls “kidpacks” — packages of nonperishable food — to 15 children at the former McKay Campus Elementary School. Guidance counselors and administrators helped to identify the children, who depend on school food for sustenance, and delivered the packages to them each week in nondescript bags.
Kira and her parents — who help her with the shopping, packaging and delivery — do not know who receives the food.
Earlier this year, Kira won the United Way Community Builders Star Projects Competition, which earned her $1,000 and several bags of food for the program. A nutrition-services fundraiser last school year earned her another $1,200, allowing her to expand to Crocker and South Street elementary schools this year.
Lucius said nutrition-services driver Nathan Glenny has volunteered to deliver the kidpacks to the three schools each week.
Kira said millions of kids go to bed hungry every night, “and I wonder if they’re thinking about their education or their hunger,” Kira said when she was recognized by the School Committee.
Mayor Lisa Wong is duly impressed with Kira.
“Doing something like this from such a young age — it’s pretty incredible,” said Wong, who also chairs the School Committee. “I hope you know you make all of us proud, not just your parents.”
She thanked Kira “for not waiting until you’re grown up to think that you can give back.”
Kira and her father also had some other exciting news to share: Karing 4 Kidz has partnered with Blessings in a Backpack, a larger, national organization with a similar mission.
Now that Karing 4 Kidz is an official nonprofit agency, it will be able to receive donations from companies, particularly large corporations, John Andreucci said, that had wanted to donate previously, but were not able to do so because of the organization’s status.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.