CLARIDON, Ohio — On a sunny, summer day last week, a group of volunteers is hard at work at the First Congregational Church of Claridon. One by one, they loaded up their cars, to make a difference.
"Many jobs have been affected for the parents. So it's not just financial, it's also mental health to see that somebody does care for their kids," LuAnn Burger said, of volunteering to help parents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Burger is part of a dedicated group with the Summer Lunch Program, founded by Judi Maloney last summer.
Since it started, more than 16,500 meals have been delivered to children in Geauga County.
“Whatever happened in life that there's not food on the lunch table today, is not a child's fault. And a child deserves to have lunch," Judi said.
Judi has been serving others for a long time. For the past ten and a half year, she's fed the homeless. Last summer, she realized she wanted to do more.
“And I kept thinking, 'out here in Claridon, I bet you people could use the lunch,' and it just kept bothering me and kept riding on me," Judi told us.
So, she and a group of caring volunteers with Claridon Community Helps, did something about it. Now, the kids in the area get five free lunches a week. But if you ask Judi about her selflessness, she'll tell you that she doesn't want the credit.
“I call myself the ringleader, but without all the volunteers, it wouldn't happen. I just was the one crazy enough to take the initiative and everybody joined it," Judi said.
“She sees a lot of these little kids that just don't deserve this life, but she'll help them the best she can. And yeah, it's just in her heart," said her good friend, Paula Geiss.
The families Judi and her team help, can feel the love. Often, the team will get thank you notes from folks who just couldn't make ends meet.
But Judi says, everyone is welcome to get a lunch, and no one should feel about it, no matter their situation.
“This is for everybody, don't be ashamed. I want everybody to feel welcome. We want to do it. And if you don't sign up, that gives us nothing to do," Judi told us.
Plus, it is she, who feels honored to serve them.
“Thank you for allowing us to provide lunch for your kids. It brings us pleasure. It brings happiness to our day to bring them lunch," Judi said.
If you'd like to donate to Judi's cause, the Summer Lunch Program, click HERE.