Tri-Cities’ school districts looking for volunteers for Lunch Buddies program

Making a difference. Mentoring a child going through a critical time. School districts across the Tri-Cities are looking for volunteers for their Lunch Buddies program.

Going into their fourth year, the program has about 60 volunteers. Their mentors who eat lunch with a child once a week. That student is at-risk for a number of reasons.

“They’re looking for someone who need a little extra, a little someone to come alongside them,” said Julie McDonald, Director of Lunch Buddies. “It could be a lot of reasons. It’s not just one reason, but we’ve seen kids who are being bullied or kids who are the bullies. Kids from homes with addiction.”

The school selects the child based on their needs. Counselors also assist in the process. Mentors are placed in 10 elementary and middle schools. Right now, three schools are on a waiting list, making the need for volunteers urgent.

“It’s just a really great opportunity to impact someone who needs that extra support,” McDonald said. “It could be behavioral, academic, their home life. May just need a little extra support amidst the difficult home life.”

Big groups around the Tri-Cities volunteer their time once a week, including the Columbia Basin College baseball team.

“One of the sixth graders at one of our schools after meeting his athlete — his CBC student said this is my best day ever, and that was just the first time they met,” McDonald explained.

You must be 18 and go through a background check. An orientation session is then scheduled. To learn more call 509-948-4700 or email lunchbuddies49@gmail.com.