More than half a million children in Georgia don’t have consistent access to enough nutritious food, according to the Georgia Food Bank Association. Band students at Hillgrove High School have taken steps to prevent that high number from including young students in their own community.
This year, the Hillgrove students raised about $9,000 in three weeks to march out hunger at Compton Elementary School and Hollydale Elementary School. They used the money to fill 4,350 nutritious food packets for families at the two schools.
The Hillgrove band launched the program last year, the same year they were planning their overseas trip to perform in the 75th anniversary of D-Day ceremony in France. During the first year, the band raised more than $5,000 and packed over 3,500 meals, which they delivered to Compton Elementary students.
They expanded the program to include Hollydale Elementary families in 2019.
“Our parents are so amazing. Some of them work two to three jobs and so having [the extra food] to come home to will be such a surprise and such a blessing. We are so blessed that Hillgrove would think of our Hollydale families,” said Hollydale Principal Jennifer Ridgway.
In addition to their fundraising efforts and their volunteer hours spent filling the food bags, the Hillgrove students wanted to add a personal touch to the food delivery. So, they dropped in for lunch with the elementary children.
“Through the band’s efforts, Compton’s students were able to enjoy lunch with the Hillgrove Band students and were able to take home a meal to share with their families. I am thankful for this opportunity as it is a great example for my students to witness students serving others, which supports Compton’s vision of Lean – Lead – Lift Up,” added Compton Principal Beth Lair.
Band student and Hillgrove senior Nathan Jones proposed the idea for the “March Out Hunger” program based on the non-profit No Child Hungry, which provides the materials for the food packets and helps those with food insecurities around the world. The school partnered with Macland Presbyterian Church to help the band students with their quest to prevent children in their community from going hungry.
Beyond surpassing their success over last year and expanding the program to help another school, Nathan pointed to his one-on-one interaction with the children as impacting him the most.
“To be able to come to the school and sit down and have lunch with the kids, it is as rewarding for them as it is for us,” Nathan explained. “The look in the kids’ eyes is what means the most to me. They will look up to me with excitement, happiness, and joy.”