School is almost out and finals are just around the corner.
But for the the kids in the PAL program at Archer City High School the learning won’t stop with that final school bell.
“We are hoping to make sure that everyone is well taken care of throughout the summer,” said senior Audry Lopez. “I mean you go and have fun or whatever during the summer, but you make sure that everyone has a meal and is well fed.”
The PAL program pairs high school students with younger kids to provide peer assistance and leadership. But when Archer City teacher Amanda Williams started Hungry Hearts Food Ministry this past February, many of the PALs saw the chance to help out their younger counterparts.
“I can’t imagine knowing my little PAL is going home hungry or is hungry on the weekends,” said another senior in the program, Eliot Hilbers. “This is just a great way to help out.”
So far, Hungry Hearts has focused on gathering nonperishable items. But this summer, they want to gather bread, meat, and cheese so all of their Wildcats can have a complete meal.
“Forty-one percent of the student population in Archer City receives free and reduced lunches and we estimate that that’s not every student with a need for assistance with food,” said director of Hungry Hearts, Amanda Williams. “But in the summer time when school is out, those breakfasts and lunches that they get every day are gone.”
That’s why Rhonda Rowe wanted to pay it forward to Hungry Hearts — so her students can grow up big and strong — and others can learn what it means to serve.
“It just warms my heart to see the community pitch in so much,” Eliot said. “It just shows that there’s so much love in a small town.”
“We say you’re going to feed a child,” Williams said. “But you’re also going to feed their heart and your heart while you’re serving.”