During a time filled with tremendous uncertainty and financial hardship, Silver Dollar City Foundation’s Care For Kids, with the help of Woodland Hills Family Church, has made sure that Stone and Taney county children have the funding needed to succeed, sooner.

According to Silver Dollar City Foundation President John Baltes, for the last 15 years Care For Kids has provided funding to 14 school districts in Stone and Taney County to help schools meet student’s physical needs: coats, medicine, shoes, meal programs, school supplies, field trips, rent and more.

“The school has this flexibility to help the student with those kinds of purchases so that they get back in the classroom and do what they do best,” said Baltes. “Annually, we give them a check in September, and with those funds they have the whole school year to spend those funds at their discretion.

“We don’t tell them which kid gets it or doesn’t get it, they have full responsibility to make decisions. They know their kids best, they know who might need help with food or clothing or medicine or eye glasses. There’s really no limitation on it which really makes it helpful that they can move very quickly to help a child that’s hurting.”

Thanks to a donation made by Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Stone and Taney county school districts were able to receive their funding in July, instead of September this year, so more money was delivered sooner to students in need.

“That may not sound like a big deal, but we were very fortunate to have that donation made, and we just gave it right to the schools immediately,” said Baltes. “We get the dollars out in the community right away, so, that’s really what I think is important is that we realize that people on the front line, which are many of our teachers and counselors in the schools, they need this extra help that when a kid needs medicine and the family can’t afford it, the school can help.

“It doesn’t sound like it’s a big deal but I’ll tell ya, (for) those families it’s a big deal because, let’s face it, this winter if it’s cold and a kid doesn’t have a jacket, give them a jacket and get them in school. You multiply that times almost 6,000 kids this last year, that adds up to a lot of families impacted.”

According to Baltes, the annual funding provided by Care For Kids starts at the same base amount for each school district and then varies by district size.

“The way it works, it’s a real simple formula. There’s a base amount that all of the schools get equally, so they all start at the same amount,” said Baltes. “Then what we do is we take all of the kids in Stone and Taney county that are on free and reduced lunch, and if you have more children in your school district, like if you’re a larger school like Branson and you have more kids, you will get a larger percentage of those remaining dollars.

“So, it’s a way of accounting for the number of students in each school, but it doesn’t penalize the school, like Mark Twain, that might only have 40 students. So, they all get a base amount, and then we add on funding based on the total number percentage of free and reduced lunch.”

Every year a certain amount of dollars is put into the Foundation for distribution to the schools. According to Baltes, the donations to the schools provided by Care For Kids come as a byproduct of profits from Silver Dollar City Attractions.

According to the press release provided by Silver Dollar City, the annual funding totals more than $150,000 each year.

In the first 14 years of Care For Kids, approximately $2 million was donated with additional help in recent years from Woodland Hills Family Church to build an even stronger program.

Visit silverdollarcityfoundation.com for information.

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