NORTH OGDEN -- What started out as a routine assignment for a school club has resulted into a project that will feed hundreds of needy kids in North Ogden.
Members of Weber High School's HOSA club, a high school club for future health professionals, were filming a public service announcement for a competition around the theme for the year, which is combating youth hunger. The students traveled to Bountiful to talk to community members who put together weekend kits to send home with children who don't get fed regular meals on the weekends. As the students heard about this program they decided they wanted to make it happen in their own community.
HOSA adviser Jennifer Bird said the students came to her with the idea to start their own project to raise funds to put together kits to send home with students in North Ogden. While researching how to make it happen, they heard about the Souper Bowl of Caring, another project to gather food for the needy. They put the two projects together and in the last week have raised just more than $2,100 in cash and gathered 6,493 food items.
Their initial goal was to help students every week with kits to take home at North Ogden Elementary, but because of the success of the food and money drive, they will be helping three schools in the North Ogden area by sending home about 50 kits a week for the rest of the school year, Bird said.
Next year they plan to do it for all six elementary schools that feed into Weber High School.
Saturday, members of the club spent their day at Lee's Market asking for money and food donations and then spent Wednesday morning putting the kits together.
Trent Simmons, a high school junior, loved seeing the project come together. He collected food items Saturday and was impressed by the generosity of the community.
"We have filled this bin about nine times, I bet," he said as he motioned to a bin full of food items.
Simmons liked the idea of doing the food drive because HOSA is a service organization, but also wants to help people live more healthy food lifestyles. Simmons said they had also put out food baskets and money jars to gather things all week at the school and they plan to do it each year and make it a school tradition.
Students talked to principals and counselors about the need for students to have some extra food on the weekends because some kids go without.
"I had no idea there was this kind of problem here," Simmons said.
Sophomore Natalie Pixton agreed. She feels people have been eager to help out because they didn't know there was that kind of problem in the community. All the students have felt encouraged by the community support.
"We were kind of worried at first because when we approached some businesses they didn't seem interested. But that is all changed now," Simmons said.
About 50 students a week who have been identified by counselors as being in need will take home a bag full of items like fruit cups, shelf milk, peanut butter bars, fruit snacks, juice boxes, crackers, cereal cups and instant oatmeal, among other things.
Bird said the kids make her feel emotional because of their willingness to serve. "This has been amazing and I'm super proud of my students," she said. "They were completely surprised this was a problem and they want to do something about it."
A similar program is going strong in the Bountiful area, but Bird and her students would like to see other schools and organizations pick it up in their communities to help more hungry students.
"If we could see this happening in Ogden and Fremont and Bonneville and all the schools that would really be something," she said.