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On a mission for Nick

By Kenny Mitchell
Oct. 4, 2011 at 10 p.m.

It is hard to find purpose in a tragedy and even harder to take something that left a void in the lives of so many and make something positive out of it, but that is what the Shumake family is trying to do.

Eight year-old Nicholas Shumake lost his life last June at the Albert Pike Campground in a flash flood that swept through the camp taking him and nineteen others including his grandparents. More than a year later, his mother and father Barbara and Tony Shumake, and all of the Shumake family have started something in his memory that will positively affect the lives of many area school children.

Nick's Mission is a backpack program to feed hungry school children on weekends and school holidays that sends backpacks full of nutritional food home with area kids who might not eat much otherwise. In its official launch last week, 31 elementary age kids from around the area did not have to go hungry last weekend.

These are kids that normally may have come to school Monday, crying, asking for food and unable to focus on their education, simply because they have had not enough to eat.

Nick's Mission has a very simple goal, to ensure that no child in our area goes hungry. To reach that goal much work has already been done but the project will need the help of the community to carry on .

You can sponsor a child for $4.22 a week or $152.00 a year. For that small amount of money, each child will receive a backpack as they leave school on Friday filled with nutritious foods and snacks the child can easily open and eat. Even better, unlike other organizations, every penny donated will be used to provide food for the kids. The family, the schools, nobody else will receive any of the money brought in, as the East Texas Food Bank has stepped up to cover all of the related administrative and overhead costs.

The program is coordinated closely with school staff and officials and information and training is provided to school staffs on how to recognize signs and symptoms of child hunger.

When students are identified as in need of food and nutrition a referral is made and we work quickly to provide the child food, working with parents, guardians and teachers. Permission is obtained from parents along with identifying students with food allergies. Nick's Mission is already working with two area schools and is planning to add more very soon.

The family says, "Nick had a deep love and desire to help others. He would share anything he had or give anything to someone else. He had a heartfelt love and concern for others. Nick has a special story of his own. For eight beautiful years our family was extremely blessed beyond measure! God had a plan for Nick. Nick touched so very many, many people in his short life and we realize now that Nick has fulfilled God's plan and many, many people were blessed to have known him." We feel his presence in Nick's Mission and feel God has led us in this direction because children are so special and truly gifts from God"

This week would have been Nick's 10th birthday and in conjunction with that the program will be hosting a special fundraiser at the Texas Roadhouse on Monday, October 10. That night, from 4 to 8 p.m., if you present a copy of the Nick's Mission flyer, the Roadhouse will give 10 percent of all food purchases to the program. The flyer can either be a hard copy or a picture of it on your phone.

His mom, Barbara says, "We feel his presence in Nick's Mission and feel God has led us in this direction because children are so special and truly gifts from God."

If you have questions about Nick's Mission, please call Barbara Shumake, Nick's mom at 903-276-5955 or the East Texas Food Bank, at 903.617.2020. Learn more about backpack programs by visiting or you can call them at 903.597.3663

To make a donation you can send a check directly to East Texas Food Bank, Nick's Mission Backpack #1251B, PO Box 6974, Tyler TX 75711. The food bank services 84 backpack programs, so please note Nick's Mission #1251B on all donations.



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