MADISON, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) — Millions of kids in America are food insecure. The pandemic and school closures have only made the problem worse.
A group of UW-Madison students has worked to try and make sure kids in the area will have meals.
The group is called Humorology. It consists of UW-Madison students, most of which are in fraternities and sororities. They spend all school year in teams planning and rehearsing a comedy show for the spring.
This year the show had to be called off because of the Coronavirus.
“The fact that we made it so close, like we were in the one month range, so we really devastated, but we also recognize that this was a much larger issue that was completely out of our control,” said Lilly Fisher, outreach chair for Humorology.
Humorology doesn't just do the show though, it's mostly a philanthropic group. They spend all year competing against each other to raise money for a nonprofit.
This year they chose Blessings in a Backpack, a national nonprofit focused on getting meals on weekends to kids who rely on school for food. Kids especially in need right now during the pandemic.
“Because of Coronavirus we realized what an impact we actually made, that we were going to be able to open this program that start benefiting children in the area immediately,” Fisher said.
Students in the group fundraise in different ways. Some pair with local businesses, a lot of them focus fundraising efforts online and on social media.
“When we found out we were coming home from school it was kind of easy to keep that going because a lot of it was over social media so we really kept everyone involved as much as we could considering the circumstances,” said Kaylee Cunningham, philanthropy chair for Humorology.
Ultimately the group raised $341,000 for Blessings in a Backpack — enough money for the national nonprofit to open up a program in Madison.
“These kids are dedicated, they are passionate and they are giving, and they were all so grateful for the opportunity to even be involved in something like this,” said Zoe Devorkin, a program marketing manager for Blessings in a Backpack.
Devorkin was once a UW-Madison student in Humorology too. She says she's biased, but what the students did amazed her.
“All of these students are leaving a lasting impact on the Madison community for years and years to come, there are kids that are going to receive blessings in a backpack because of their fundraising efforts,” Devorkin said.
The money is already being used too. Food is being sent to thousands of kids in the Madison area and helping feed them through the summer.
“Just being able to use these funds right away to ship food to kids in Madison, Wisconsin, that they and their families can go pick up so their kids can have food to eat is so important,” Devorkin said.
Humorology paired up with Blessings in a Backpack long before the coronavirus hit the world and shut down schools in the U.S. Now Blessings in a Backpack estimates that more than 18 million kids are food insecure in the country.
With so many families now struggling to eat, the donation came at an important time.
“It must have been really meant to be that we were supposed to be partnered with them,” Cunningham said. “So it kind of gave a sense of peace in all of this, so I'm really grateful that that was the partnership we chose.”
Humorology's leader students are proud of the way the group kept fundraising, despite many moving away from Madison as in-person classes shut down for the school year.
“Through all of that they were able to continue to focus on doing something for the community and doing something bigger than themselves and i think the payoff was huge,” Fisher said.
You can learn more about Blessings in a Backpack on its website: https://www.blessingsinabackpack.org
Or you can learn about Humorology on its website: https://www.humorology.org