HUNTINGDON, Pa. (WTAJ) — WTAJ has been working to help the community for the past 70 years, and for the year of 2023, we’ve been selecting various non-profits in our area that need some extra love and support. We’re doing our part to highlight these organizations, so that you in turn can help them too! It’s a win-win. This month we decided to feature an organization based out of Huntingdon County known as the Heart of JCo. Associate Director, Lydia Kyler stopped by the studio to talk more about what this organization is doing for area kids.

The founder of the Heart of JCo, Janelle Grissinger, has a true passion for children, especially those in need. She saw an opportunity to do more than just her and her family, or the JCo Family, could do on their own. To make a difference in an even larger capacity. Supported by an agency full of people that believe strongly in giving back, an accountant who helped with all the business steps needed, and now a board of directors with a great deal of experience in non-profits, The Heart of JCo was born!

Our mission is helping to create a kinder world where no child is hungry or excluded due to financial hardship. “Kindness for Kids”.

Right here in central PA, along with many other towns in the US and world over, there are kids that are hungry. The unpaid school lunch accounts just at our local district are over $16K! Many of these are kids whose parents work, make too much to qualify for free lunches, but are struggling to pay bills. Embarrassment of negative balances keeps some children from getting lunch. Worrying about being able to eat at school is something NO child should be burdened with! There is a backpack program here in Huntingdon that sends food home on Fridays with children that would otherwise have a hard time not being hungry over the weekend. There are times they struggle to keep enough food in the program to keep it running. They have personally bought shoes for kids we’ve seen in school with soles that were falling off, coats for children that come to school in sub zero temperatures with sweatshirts, created Christmases for kids that otherwise would not have one, and so much more. Have you ever wondered what it’s like for a small child to go to the book fair and watch their classmates all shop with the money sent in for them, all the while knowing they were leaving with nothing? Or the Santa workshop watching everyone pick up small trinkets for their families, while some walk around sad knowing they can’t buy anything? All of these type things are heartbreaking for children, and leave a lasting impact. Again, many of these parents work, some multiple jobs, but there is no room in the budget for such things. Their vision would be a world where NO child is left feeling like this!

The Heart of JCo aims to help children in each of our communities, and the communities we travel to each year. If the Angel fund sees a child’s lunch account balance growing, and knows they need the help, they hope to cover it. Or say a teacher sees a child with holes in their shoes or knows they are lacking food at home right now, quick call to The Heart of JCo and someone is running to the shoe or grocery store. A child that really wants to play basketball, but can’t afford the sneakers, someone is going to miss out on a chorus trip, or field trip because they couldn’t raise the funds, they are here to help them! This will be a personal mission with everyone involved making sure children are taken care of to the best of our abilities and funds, thanks to your compassionate hearts!

The Heart of JCo is listed as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization so your donations will be tax deductible. Please help them to be able to make a real difference in a child’s life, and bring the joy back to all childhoods!