As COVID-19 continues to significantly impact businesses and organizations across the state, food banks and art programs are needed more than ever, especially for children. Recognizing that there was a need was all it took for Feeding Southwest Virginia and the Taubman Museum of Art to answer the call.
On May 18 at 1 p.m., the two organizations partnered together to provide Brush Pals Art Kits with meals and snacks at the Community Solutions Center on Melrose Avenue. Supported by the Sam and Marion Golden Helping Hand Foundation, Brush Pals is funded in part by an Alumni TIES small grant from the U.S. Department of State. The program is also in partnership with Carilion Clinic and the Dr. Robert L.A. Keeley Healing Arts Program.
It was Taubman Museum Executive Director Cindy Peterson who approached Feeding Southwest Virginia about working to help spread joy to children with art through their outreach programs.
“With so many suffering in our community now – loneliness from social isolation, economic hardships from jobs lost, food insecurity with cupboards going bare – these are hard and stressful times for so many,” she said. “We reached out to our friends at Feeding Southwest Virginia to ask how we could help their constituents with educational and enrichment activities. From those conversations, the Brush Pals program was born.”
This isn’t the first time that Feeding Southwest Virginia and the Taubman Museum came together to make a difference in the community. Canstruction, a competitive event held every other year featuring massive sculptures built from cans of food by local volunteer groups, is displayed at the Taubman Museum of Art for two weeks when the exhibit closes.
“When that happens, the ‘cansculptures’ are dismantled and all cans go directly to Feeding Southwest Virginia for distribution to people throughout our region facing hunger. Tens of thousands of pounds of food have been donated through this event,” Peterson added.
For 39 years, Feeding Southwest Virginia has fed people living in food-insecure areas. What President and CEO Pam Irvine enjoys most about her job is the number of people she gets to impact. “I take pride in keeping the pulse of what is going on in our communities, advocating for change and creating partnerships to not only sustain our organization, but also find effective solutions to end hunger,” she said.
Brush Pals will provide weekly art kits with guided activity sheets and supplies for all children served through Feeding Southwest Virginia. Those areas include Salem, Roanoke City and County, Botetourt, Floyd, Franklin Counties, Radford, Eastern Montgomery County, Smyth, Grayson and Washington Counties.
More than 20,000 individuals are expected to benefit from Brush Pals by the end of August.