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Students invite grandparents for lunch (video)

By Carolina Astrain
Sept. 14, 2013 at 4:14 a.m.
Updated Sept. 15, 2013 at 4:15 a.m.

Doug Denney, 76, of Victoria, hugs his granddaughter, Clara Burnett, 10, at the Grandparents, Lunch at Mission Valley Elementary school. "I appreciate the school for doing this lunch every year; it's great to see my grandchildren," Denney said. "I like having my grandpa come and getting to spend time with him," Clara said.

BY THE NUMBERS

There are 2.7 million grandparents responsible for the basic needs of a grandchild. Here are some other statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau:

• 594,000 - The number of grandparents responsible for grandchildren under age 18 and whose income was below the poverty level in the past 12 months compared with the 2.1 million grandparent caregivers whose income was at or above the poverty level.

•  $45,526 - Median income for families with grandparent householders responsible for grandchildren under age 18. Among these families, where a parent of the grandchildren was not present, the median income was $33,627.

• 10 percent - Percentage of children in the U.S. living with a grandparent in 2012, totaling 7.1 million.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2011 American Community Survey, America's Families and Living Arrangements

Joe Talbott, 73, and his wife, Melba Talbott, 72, waited outside the elementary school as students were shuffled into the cafeteria.

The Talbotts were at Mission Valley Elementary School on Wednesday for Grandparents' Lunch.

According to Mission Valley parent liaison Katelyn Dentler, 150 grandparents signed up to eat lunch with their grandchildren.

"This is one of the ways we like to try to get our students' families more involved with their education," Dentler said. "This way, they can come in and see what the school has going on."

The Talbotts were there to see their great-grandson, Garyn Talbott, 9, who they adopted when he was 2 months old.

The Talbotts have a total of 17 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Because he has lived with his great-grandparents most of his life, Garyn has always referred to the Talbotts as his parents.

"He calls us 'Mom' and 'Dad,' because that's what we are," said the great-grandfather. "Somebody's gotta do it, so we did it."

There are 2.7 million grandparents responsible for the basic needs of a grandchild, according to the U.S. Census Bureau 2011 American Community Survey.

The Talbotts are one of the millions who decided to shoulder the responsibility for their grandchild.

"I love it," said the great-grandfather. "It's hard to explain now, but I love it."

Melba Talbott kept a watchful eye on Garyn as he walked through the cafeteria greeting his usual lunch crowd.

"It's trying in different areas, but it's still also a blessing," the great-grandmother said. "I know that the Lord sent him to us."

Linda Culpepper moved to South Texas from North Carolina nine years ago to be closer to her twin grandchildren - fourth-graders Joey and Jeffrey Mitchum.

"They're a handful, but it's worth every minute of it," Culpepper said. "It's vital for them to see the world through different eyes."

This was Culpepper's second Grandparents' Lunch at Mission Valley without her husband, who passed away a year ago.

"That makes it even more important for me to be here," Culpepper said.

In the same room, Delia Monjarz, 55, was at Mission Valley to have lunch with second-grader Noelia Monjarz, one of her seven grandchildren.

"She loves when I come to see her," Monjarz said. "A big smile stretches across her face."

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