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    By Todd Martin

    A group of fourth- and fifth-graders darted about with excitement to pack non-perishable food into boxes, load the boxes onto a bus and into a car and then unload it all into a storage facility.

    The Skipcha Elementary School student council members posted signs around their school, urged peers to give generously and reminded everyone that the top giving class would get a party.

    Their efforts paid off.

    In the end, thousands of canned goods and other items lined the shelves of the Killeen ISD Homeless Awareness Response Program pantry at the Jackson Professional Learning Center in Killeen.

    It’s the season of giving and children are among the most excited to show their generous spirit, according to the educators who administer the school district’s program that serves families of homeless students.

    Since the start of the current school year, KISD has identified about 900 students meeting the federal definition of homelessness, said Phyllis Rosen, who administers HARP.

    “This is such a wonderful, giving community,” she said Tuesday as she waited for the bus to bring 34 students from Skipcha Elementary School and their haul of donated food.

    Community groups, churches and other organizations bring food, clothes and money, as well as offer up time to sort and shop, Rosen said. There is something special, though, about students giving.

    “It’s awesome to watch kids give,” she said. “It’s such a valuable experience to give to others. It’s a valuable lesson of service.”

    Students piled off the bus, grasped hold of boxes filled with food and carried the load into the JPLC building, where HARP offices and a storage area are located.

    “This is good,” declared fifth-grader Eesha Moin-Raju, Skipcha Elementary student council president. “I am surprised how many supported it.”

    She said the council members motivated their peers offering a contest to the grade level and class that gave the most.

    “This is more than we expected,” she said. “It’s important because people are in need of food. If we were in a similar situation, we would want someone to help.”

    “You will be helping so many families,” Rosen told the students, thanking them for packing the shelves.

    “It was an overwhelming amount,” said school counselor Patricia Journey. Both the student council and the school’s Student 2 Student chapter helped operate the food drive. Several individual classes contributed more than 300 items alone.

    “They get excited,” Journey said, praising her students’ drive to serve others and to make the delivery.

    The non-perishable food items will be used for emergency food boxes and to assist families in need during the holiday break.

    Qualifications for HARP services are outlined based on the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

    Those interested in donating or finding out more about the program may contact Rosen at 336-0372 or consult the following:

    https://www.killeenisd.org/frontPageV3/comp/table.cfm?navBarID=2038

    December 5, 2017

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