As a mom of six, Champale Anderson has long had her finger on the pulse of what’s going on among the kids in her St. Louis neighborhood.
And when she realized that many of those kids were coming home from school hungry, she took it upon herself to develop a solution.
“I’m always the one that kids come to whenever they’re in trouble, [when] they need somewhere to stay, I’m usually the one that they can come stay with,” Anderson, 48, tells PEOPLE.
With that generous spirit in mind, Anderson has been packing bags filled with sandwiches and snacks for hundreds of neighborhood kids for the past five years, making sure their bellies are filled with things like peanut butter and jelly and chips each and every day.
The operation started with just 15 bags, but her reach doubled within a week through word of mouth, and now, Anderson estimates that 130 kids come by each day seeking a bag.
“I get off of work to come to work to finish doing this for them,” says Anderson, who spends her mornings working in home health care. “They look forward to it, I can’t disappoint them.”
As for what’s in a typical bag, Anderson says she likes to mix it up, but typically includes a sandwich — either peanut butter and jelly, turkey, or bologna — and various other add-ons, like juice, fruit snacks, fruit, chips and cookies.
“Every day it’s something different,” she says.
The added help has allowed Anderson to expand her operation to another four tables in different areas, which she runs with the help of her aunt and sister under the names Champ’s Teardrops, because “it’s a sad situation.”
Her help has certainly had an impact, like on the little girl Anderson says had to build up the nerve to ask for a second bag because she had nothing to eat at home, and on parents unable to feed their children themselves.
“So many of them, they come up to me and tell me that they really appreciate it, because a lot of people assume that the kids are suffering because parents maybe be on drugs or anything. It’s really not all about that,” she tells PEOPLE. “A lot of it is, but a lot of them just can barely pay their bills. Hell, I can barely pay mine, but I was blessed enough to have a little spare change left over to provide this.”
As for what’s next, Anderson hopes to continue growing her initiative because “this is our future and nobody [should] go hungry.”
“We have enough money in this world to provide this,” she says. “If they can build new buildings, they can go buy bread and bologna and stuff for certain neighborhoods to help them. And that’s my goal. I want to reach everything.”