YMCA celebrates summer meal program with ‘one last hurrah’


Last Updated on August 5, 2015 – 11:20 AM CDT

[Editor’s Note: This story has been updated.]

Above: The Dumas YMCA ended its Hop the Gap program with a Summer Party on Tuesday. From left, Nicholas Elzner, Brenda Elzner, Dr. Lauren Schaub, Aliah and Cross Gordon.

Imagine you’re a kid with nothing much to do during the summer. Imagine you’re a kid who is hungry with nothing much to do. For two months, the YMCA, along with a group of community volunteers, made sure at least 100 children didn’t experience either challenge through Hop The Gap, a nationwide program designed to help children who need supervised activities and meals during the summer.

The program began June 8, and the YMCA and volunteers served lunches at five locations in Dumas and Cactus. The High Plains Food Bank Kids Café sent a week’s worth of food each week, making it possible for the YMCA to provide the meals.

“But we did more than give them a meal,” said YMCA Programs Director Christy Carbajal. “We would sit and eat with them and then have a fun activity. Through this program, we were able to keep the kids active physically and socially.”

Hop the Gap is broken up into categories of Hunger, Health, Learning, Water Safety and Safe Places, and the Dumas YMCA chose to focus on hunger. During the summer, some children have to fend for themselves, but the two-month long program allowed them to “hop the gap.”

“We also had whole families attend,” said YMCA CEO Brenda Elzner. “It was just an incredible program, and it was successful because Dumas is an extremely generous community, and we had so much help from the Kids Café.”

On Tuesday, the YMCA held a Summer Party to celebrate the end of Hop the Gap, which will be Aug. 7. The YMCA invited the parents, especially the mothers to the party, letting them explore the vendors who set up in the gym while their children played supervised games outside.

“It’s our way of getting to know the moms, but it was also a way to let them enjoy a little time talking to health care professionals and other businesses who set up booths,” Elzner said. “It’s a way for all of us to connect.”

Dumas’ generosity didn’t end with the lunches. Carbajal said. Volunteers came up with $1,000 that was used to buy school supplies for the children.

“It’s just incredible,” Carbajal said. “I’m overwhelmed by the generosity. One volunteer was able to get 30 backpacks, and it’s going to help many children.”

Carbajal said there were no qualifications the children had to meet to participate in the summer meal program or to receive the school supplies. All they had to do was sign up for them at the summer party.

“The summer party is our way of celebrating a successful program, our last hurrah for something that was so successful,” Carbajal said. “I’m just so overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of so many people. Many children’s lives were touched by that generosity.”

Watch a video of one of the summer party activities below.