The agency that feeds the hungry in the Natural State had much gratitude to express to the station in the following news release:
The week-long "4 the Greater Good" telethon by KARK 4 in Little Rock benefiting the Arkansas Foodbank on Friday became the most successful fundraising drive in Foodbank history, raising in excess of the drive's ambitious goal of $100,000.
The Kroger grocery chain added $36,000 on Friday to push the total to more than $120,000 and smashing the $100,000 goal. The final count was $120,792, with some pledges and donations continuing to come in in response to the effort to help hungry Arkansans during the holiday season.
Joe Bell, an executive with Kroger in Memphis, presented a check to Foodbank CEO Phyllis Haynes, who said, "We want to thank Kroger and everyone who contributed to this successful drive. Thousands of Arkansans called in pledges, and all contributed to this record-breaking success."
KARK 4 General Manager Mike Vaughn said: "In our second year of the '4 the Greater Good' program, it always amazes me to see how our viewers respond to the difficulties faced by people in our state, like the current hunger crisis, and how we can become part of the solution rather than just reporting on the problems."
The Foodbank singled out for appreciation the station's Phil Wrobel, who oversaw the drive, for contributing to its success by managing logistics, schedules and promotional spots that began on Thanksgiving to inform the public of the coming fund drive.
The station not only promoted the telethon through Public Service Announcements but used the opportunity to report in depth on the work of the Foodbank and its 300 members agencies -- food pantries, child feeding programs, shelters and soup kitchens that provide food aid directly to hungry Arkansans in its 33-county service area.
News reporter Jessica Dean, reporting live from the Dalton Whetstone Boys & Girls Club in East Little Rock, interviewed children about friends who struggle with hunger and showed kids eating snacks that came from the Arkansas Foodbank in the Feeding America "Kids' Cafe" program in the club snack bar.
Other stories reported that the Foodbank is the largest food bank in the state, and the largest non-government source of food relief for hungry people in Arkansas. It is one of six Feeding America food banks in Arkansas that cover all parts of the state.
Reporter Melissa Simas reported on Lifeline Baptist Church pantry on Baseline Road, interviewing people who were picking up food as well as volunteers at the pantry. Her report emphasized that among those picking up a box of food were workers whose hours had been cut, people who are unemployed, people who have cancer of other debilitating illness and high medical bills.
Foodbank volunteers staffed a phone bank at the station Monday through Friday from early morning through the 10 p.m. news, led by the Foodbank's volunteer coordinator, Kathy Kaigler. They answered the phones and took pledges for the end-of-year fundraising drive.
They told the story of Devon Howell, a student who is studying mass communications at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, who has volunteered to assist managing the Foodbank website. She spoke about her experiences visiting the Crosspoint Ministries food pantry and MannaFest Blessing pantry, both in Beebe, meeting people who have lost their jobs, had to close contracting businesses, or have cancer and are in debt because of medical bills.
Even Dr. David Lipschitz, during his own show on Friday at noon, voiced support for the drive and took the opportunity to hail the health benefits of volunteering and praised the volunteers working the phones during the telethon as examples. "They are extending their lives through their volunteer activities," he said.
A highlight was when KAR4 4 Meteorologist Greg Dee, fulfilling a pledge for a $2,500 donation, did the Bunny Hop in front of a green screen while holding a floppy eared Energizer Bunny toy that then went to the donor.
Other reporters and on-air staff included Jessica Dean, Mallory Hardin, Melissa Simas, Wendy Suarez, Matt Mosler, Bob Clausen and others who participated in broadcasts about the Foodbank and the fundraising drive.