CHAMPAIGN — Ana Vieira wants to fill more than kids' empty tummies during the winter break: She wants to feed their imaginations.
The founder of FACET, Friends Against Children's Empty Tummies, Vieira is asking the community to support a FACET project to send each needy child receiving food through an Eastern Illinois Foodbank program at Carrie Busey Elementary School, Savoy, and Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, Urbana, home for the winter break with a new book.
FACET's Feeding Imagination Holiday Book Drive will be held at the University Illinois Ice Arena during the Dec. 14 Illini hockey game.
Books donated should be appropriate for children ages 5-11.
The first 30 donors at the Illinois hockey game will receive free popcorn, Vieira said.
The children to receive the books are in the BackPack program, which sends backpacks full of food home with low-income elementary school kids on Fridays so they and their families have something to eat on the weekends.
It was started in 2005 by the food bank and the Junior League of Champaign-Urbana.
This year, the program is serving 950 children in 25 schools in Champaign, Vermilion, Coles, Piatt and Douglas counties, according to food bank spokeswoman Julie Melton.
The food bank doesn't fill the backpacks with food over winter break, because families typically have other resources in the community during the holidays, Melton said.
However, Vieira said there is enough food to send home for the kids in the program at Carrie Busey and Martin Luther King Jr. schools because of a delayed start in delivering food at those two schools at the start of the school year. The books will be included with the children's winter break backpacks, she said.
Anyone wishing to donate books who won't be going to the hockey game should email Vieira at firstname.lastname@example.org.