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Best friends from Lake County on a mission to end hunger land interview on 'Today Show'

Meredith Everett and Tracy Stanek say their mission is to help children through the End 68 Hours of Hunger initiative.

PAINESVILLE, Ohio — Two best friends out of Lake County are getting national recognition for their mission to end hunger.

Meredith Everett and Tracy Stanek have been feeding children for seven years, and come Thursday, they are taking their mission to the national spotlight with a segment on "Today with Hoda & Jenna." Everett and Stanek say their mission is to help children through the End 68 Hours of Hunger initiative.

"When [children] are hungry, it's hard for them to concentrate," Everett said. "They can't do well on tests because all they are thinking about is when they are going to get their next meal, so the kids look forward to getting these bags every weekend."

The 68 hours of hunger represent what some children experience between the free lunch they get in school on Friday and the free breakfast they get in school on Monday. When the pandemic hit, their numbers dramatically increased.

"We've increased about 150 children that we are feeding each week, so we've gone from over 500 kids to more than 600 kids," Stanek said. "Each bag contains enough food to feed one child for three dinners, two breakfasts, two lunches and snacks."

Currently, the Lake County chapter is feeding children in almost every school district in the county. They purchase the food, and then volunteers help pack it up and distribute to schools.

"For me, I would love for a kid to say when they are grown up and out of the house...'You know, I was able to continue with school and go onto college because of the End 68 Hours in Lake County, and they helped me get through a hard time,'" Everett said.

It's a labor of love for two best friends who work together -- feeding children and spreading relief and joy for kids who need it the most.

"You want to know that you are helping someone, and that you are helping someone that maybe lives next door or lives the street over or in your neighborhood," Stanek said.

If you'd like to donate food or volunteer, head to End 68 Hours Lake County's Facebook page.