Angels Light Breakfast Club
In 2000 Bronca Fox had a vision from God that the hungry children in Papakura needed feeding. The following year Bronca took a huge leap of faith and began the Angelslight Breakfast Club, an organisation that provides breakfast for children in schools around the area.
The group, which she started with no money and no volunteers, now serves 1180 breakfasts to children in four schools, with a possibility of more in the new year. Bronca says that by feeding the children they are only ensuring that they have an opportunity to learn. She says it also gives them the chance to share the love of Jesus, as many of the volunteers are able to sit down with the youngsters and talk about Jesus. "The change in the kids who are involved in this project is ‘amazing!’ For example from the teachers’ point of view there is a real difference in the behaviorally standards of the children, and even a change in the academic levels,” she explains. "What I see is that we’re now like a big family. They’ve really opened up. They were reserved at the beginning, but now they’re talking to the volunteers and asking a lot of questions."
For instance says Bronca many of the children had asked the volunteers how much they were getting paid. "When they found out we were doing it for nothing, they were amazed. This shows them that we are doing this because we really care." The club has however encountered some criticism from people who feel that it is the parents’ responsibility to feed their children. But as Bronca says God said “feed my children,” not “judge their parents.” “I’m just concerned with the kids’ situation. I don’t really see the parents, and we cannot very well go into their homes. “I try not to think about sending them home. I just pray. If you start looking at the bigger picture it’s just too much. You can so easily become overwhelmed." For Bronca and their team, being able to make some small, but significant difference in these children’s lives is what counts.
The Angelslight club is run entirely on donations and sponsorships. The major sponsor for the past two years has been The Presbyterian Foundation. Bronca bulk-buys the breakfasts, which comprise weetbix, wholemeal bread, peanut butter, honey, jam and a cocoa drink. “God has just been so faithful the whole way through. It would be awesome for your readers to pray about it, as there is a lot of spiritual warfare in doing this.”
The children are offered cereal with milk, toast with a choice of spreads and hot cocoa. Sometimes muesli bars are also available. All foods are either donated or purchased with monetary donations and the organizers have become adept at sourcing product such as quantities of sliced bread from bakery over-runs which are stored in freezers around the district for future use.
Feedback from the schools has been very encouraging with the following comments:
1. Improved behaviour in class with better concentration which in turn benefits the other pupils.
2. The social benefits of sitting around a table with other children and the interaction with adult volunteers.
3. The table etiquette which is expected of the children and the requirement to take their dishes to the kitchen when finished may be the only such training some of these children may receive.
Papakura District Council Community Champion
Two Community Champion Awards were presented on behalf of Papakura District Council by Mayor of Papakura John Robertson and deputy Mayor Katrina Piggott. Bronca Fox, founder of the AngelsLight Breakfast Club, was named Community Champion in the individual category, while the Papakura Marae was named Community Champion in the business category for its health and welfare work on behalf of the people of Papakura.
To make a donation, or help call Bronca on 296 2699.
Takanini mother of five Bronca Fox started feeding hungry children from a local caravan park who came to her door a decade ago. Today, her charity feeds 250 children at five local schools.
- "I'm opposite the street where the caravan park is and I guess because I had little children and they attracted other children, they started coming in," she said.
- "I think I was making my child a sandwich and I had these tiny kids - one was just 2 - looking straight at me, and I said, 'Are you hungry?'
- "For quite a few years I had little kids coming in and I'd feed them."
- Ten years ago this October, Mrs Fox and her sister went to the local Takanini School to suggest starting a breakfast club. Principal Linda Kelly, who had arrived a few months earlier, had already noticed that some children were coming to school hungry.
- "I identified it after three or four months," she said.
- "When I came here we had kids off the wall, stealing food."
- Mrs Fox and her sister began providing breakfasts in a programme they called "Angels Light", which they now run through the Papakura Christian Services Trust. The programme started in an empty classroom.
- "We had nothing, we were washing dishes in big containers," she said. "When we were moved into the hall, we felt like kings."
- Gradually other local schools asked to join in and Angels Light now feeds children at Cosgrove and Edmund Hillary primary schools, an intermediate, Mansell Senior School, and, since late last year, Papakura High School.
- "I guess I'd never thought of high schools," Mrs Fox said.
- "It wasn't till the high school contacted me and stressed the different issues they were having and I thought, why not - they come from the same homes and have been through the same things."
She has been horrified by the stories children have told her.
"The biggest problems I see are gambling, alcohol, drugs and violence," she said. "It should traumatise children, but they are just living it day in and day out.
"I think it's getting worse. Prices are going up all the time. I guess there's so many problems and a lot of these people are just so downtrodden that sometimes it's hard to explain."
Angels Light gives every child at least one Weet-Bix, so they get fibre and milk. It also supplies wheatmeal toast and a big pot of hot cocoa.
- Mrs Kelly believes it makes a huge difference to the children.
- "Now they are settled and ready to start the day, it's just amazing."
- The programme costs $40,000 a year for food and equipment, including commercial dishwashers to maintain hygiene standards.
- Most of the money comes from philanthropic trusts but Mrs Fox refuses to take money from gambling trusts.
- She said the biggest problem was the lack of volunteers.
- "We would like to do the breakfasts five days a week, but a lack of volunteers often means some mornings do not go ahead," she said.
- "We need at least five people each morning, but that depends on the size of the school. We would love more volunteers."
- Can you help us?