Teen volunteer recognized for service

Thursday, October 30th 2008, 6:44 pm
By: News 9

By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Volunteers at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma work to erase hunger, one snack at a time.

More than 15,000 people worked here for free over the last year, but one teenage volunteer stands out from the others.

Jonathan Crider has risen to celebrity status among those dedicated to feeding the children.

"Food's necessity and it's not something kids should have to worry about," Crider said.

Three years ago, the 14-year-old heard a public service announcement about childhood hunger in Oklahoma.

"I was shocked," Crider said. "I kind of thought about it all through the day and didn't really say anything."

It is reported one in every five children are at risk of going hungry every day.

"I've been doing this for 30 years now, and this is the worst I've ever seen it," said Rodney Bivens, executive director CEO of Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. "The demand for food is at an all time high. We're having a difficult time keeping up with the food demand currently."

Crider started with a penny drive, organized two Rock-A-Thon's to raise money, and partnered with EZ-GO convenience stores.

From the time he joined the organization at the age of 11 until now, the 14-year-old has raised $50,000 to help feed the children.

He's been recognized nationally, attending a ceremony alongside celebrities like Matt Damon, Wyclef Jean, and David Arquette, sponsored by the international organization ONE X ONE as the "Backpack Program Hero."

The only two people receiving awards that night were Crider and Carlos Santana.

The award highlighted Jonathan's extraordinary work to provide backpacks full of food to children at school on Friday afternoons, who may have otherwise not eaten on the weekend.

"He doesn't necessarily like the notoriety and awards," Jonathan Crider's mother Tina Crider said. "He loves that because it brings out awareness to people. That's how they hear about it, but I think even if there wasn't awards, he would still be doing the same job."

The Regional Food Bank estimates that although they are distributing 2 million pounds of every month, they are only hitting about 60 percent of the need.