On December 13th, 2016, student members of the Clemens High School PIE Club in Schertz, Texas executed an event that supplied fresh fruits, vegetables and meat, plus non-perishables, to over 130 local families who would otherwise have gone without over the holiday break.
The idea began in early October, when the 30-member PIE Club (Positively Influencing Everyone) was covering the topic of hunger in America. PIE Club is a once-a-week lunch group, led by an adult volunteer from Positivity Impacting Communities (PIC) that meets to learn about topics such as gratitude, self-respect, doing the right thing, being an up-stander and more. In addition to discussing how to incorporate these characteristics into their own lives, they are encouraged to find ways to influence others to live them out through actions and service to others.
One of the primary protective factors for teens
is to be involved in their community.
After learning that 385 families from a school in their district would be without adequate food resources over the Christmas break, the Clemens High School PIE Club determined to do something about it. Their mission was to provide each family with a pack of fresh vegetables, fruit and meat, as well as non-perishables, to help cover the days of winter break. (These are families whose children normally receive free or reduced-fee meals on regular school days.)
To fund their event, the PIE members applied for and were awarded a $9,230 grant from the Spur's Team Up Challenge program. They then organized a food drive in the school to collect the additional non-perishable items. Once they had the resources to deliver the food, they invited all 385 families to a food distribution event to be held on December 13th at Wilder Intermediate School.
When asked about her favorite part of the project, PIE Student,
Miri, replied, "knowing I was making an impact in my own neighborhood."
The day before the event, PIE volunteer leader, Dee Dee Said was getting anxious about having enough student volunteers to execute the event. There was much to do and the work wouldn’t be easy. The students would need to unload the trucks, carry the crates inside, lay out all the food, and bag it separately for each family. “As I worried, I kept hearing God tell me ‘Those that need to be there will.’ And boy were they!” recalls Ms. Said.
At around 2 pm on the day of the event, a caravan of nine cars, trucks and SUVs driven by local HEB employees and several PIE students arrived at the school. They were each filled to the brim with fresh fruits, vegetables and poultry.
“I really liked seeing how much food we had, and thinking about
how it would impact others,” noted Madeline, PIE Student.
After the last bell of the day rang at Clemen’s High School, the PIE student volunteers began to arrive and get to work. Many of the Intermediate school’s teachers stayed to help as well. Everyone worked tirelessly to prepare 385 individual grocery packs, which each included: 2 zucchinis, a bag of carrots, celery, a container of grape tomatoes, heads of cauliflower, cabbage and romaine lettuce, 2 broccoli crowns, 4 sweet potatoes, 1 cantaloupe and 2 lbs. of chicken plus at least 2 non-perishable items.
Youth that volunteer have higher self-esteem,
earn higher grades, have lower drop-out rates and
are less likely to engage in risky behavior.
Just before the families were scheduled to arrive, Ms. Said felt the Holy Spirit lead her to pray and thank God for all that He was doing in the school. After getting the okay from the school counselor, Dee Dee asked all the students, parents and teachers in the room to stop working and join her in a short prayer to thank God. “Thank you Lord for touching our hearts and allowing us to be part of Your plan to help others.” she prayed while silently thinking, prayer in the public school!
As the families arrived, the students greeted them with a smile and loaded groceries into their cars.
“My favorite part was seeing the faces of the people receiving the food and seeing how thankful they felt. It really showed how much of a difference we can make and are making in our community,” commented PIE member, Julia
By six o’clock, about 20% of the invited families had collected their food and the PIE group realized they had more than enough to provide additional food where needed. They began to double and triple the amount of food for each family and, if that family knew of another family in need, they were given an additional pack to share.
Teachers, parents and volunteers began seeking other ways to share the food allowing the positive impact of these PIE students and their mission to spread far beyond the school's walls.
Mariah, PIE member enjoyed, "The fact that I had the chance to help people and that I was a part of something so selfless and amazing."
The Wilder Assistant Principal, Michael Keough, contacted a woman he calls the “school's angel” and she and her husband offered to go door-to-door, delivering the food packs to senior citizens living in lower income housing. Additionally, the pastor from a local church arrived and took food to the church food pantry to distribute to other families in need.
"I really liked how everyone towards the end was working
super hard to make sure all the food was distributed to somewhere,"
notes PIE member Joanna
One of the student's dads used social media to spread the word, which brought in individuals needing groceries for their own families and others who would deliver the food to groups in need. One woman, for example, after seeing the Facebook post, arrived to take food to Air Force families on base who at times, struggle to make ends meet and to Wounded Warriors in the area. She was moved to tears and thanked the students over and over, relaying that when she was a single parent in the military things had been difficult and professing how much this was going to impact the families.
"I really liked when the woman came at the end to take the meals to
military families and seeing how grateful she was," recalls PIE member, Madeline
The project started at 2:00 p.m. and the last bag of groceries was loaded and taken to someone in need at about 8:00 p.m. “There was one young man I was in awe of. He and his dad arrived at 2:00 to have their car loaded at HEB and he wouldn't leave until the last bag went to a family. He worked extremely hard, often offering to carry a load for someone else. I commented to his dad how much I appreciate having him in PIE and his dad told me he's been talking about the food drive for weeks,” notes Dee Dee.
"I just think seeing the look in some of the family’s eyes whenever we were loading up their vehicles. They had so much gratitude when all we were trying to do was help." notes Jonathan, PIE member.
In addition to this incredible opportunity to serve others, this project allowed current PIE members and leaders to expose others to the concept of positively impacting everyone and glorifying God through their service. Of the day, Ms. Said comments, “Several times during the day I had the opportunity to share that this was happening because God laid a need in my heart and then went before us, opening doors along the way.”
When asked what they enjoyed most about the service project, other PIE members replied,
"The man that arrived with his foster son and was taking the
food to the boy’s biological family." Alyssa
"Seeing some of the people's faces when we gave them
the food and how thankful they were." MaKenzie
"Seeing the people’s faces. The tears in their eyes as they
said thank you." Kaitlyn
"My favorite part was seeing the kids faces light up
seeing the food and knowing they'll have dinner for their family." Zariah
"I liked packing the boxes." Jaydin
Youth that learn about positive character traits are less likely to succumb to risky behaviors and are more likely to have healthy relationships as teens and adults. This project allowed Clemen's High School students to put what they've learned into action.
A special thanks goes to everyone who contributed to making this effort a success including, Clemens High School Administrators Ms. Sosa and Mrs. Ward, Clemens High School PIE Sponsors Mr. Thornton, Mr. Alejos, Mr. Trevino and Mrs. Schanhals, Schertz HEB Manager Connie Barrera and the employees that assisted in delivering and unloading the food, Spur’s Team Up Challenge program and our mentor Tyler, Wilder Intermediate school counselor and PIE sponsor Mrs. Martin, Assistant Principal Mr. Keough and Teacher volunteers, and Prayer Partners from Northern Hills United Methodist Church, Alamo Heights UMC and Church of the Good Shepherd.
About Positively Impacting Communities (PIC) At our very core we believe that through the power of our Lord and the positive influence of our youth and volunteers we can change lives. Our programs are centered around a common theme, empowering youth to meet the needs of their communities in order to protect them from risky behavior teens are often susceptible to. Learn more at pictoday.org
About PIE Club The Positively Influencing Everyone Club, a PIC program, focuses on character education in a school setting. Volunteer leaders meet with a small group of students who have been selected by their teachers as influencers among their peers. Through brief lessons, discussion and video clips, the group explores positive character traits such as self-respect and respect for others, doing the right thing, being an upstander, honesty, gratefulness and more. P.I.E. Club members then have the opportunity to live out what they've learned through school and community service projects.
Media Contact: Ginger Bailey, firstname.lastname@example.org