When Candlelight Plaza resident Adriane Schultea was looking for a volunteer activity that her family could do together, she found Kids’ Meals, an organization on Garden Oaks Boulevard that delivers free healthy meals to the doorsteps of Houston’s hungriest preschool-aged children.
“It was in our own backyard,” Schultea said.
It was after Schultea joined its advisory board that she learned of the organization’s efforts to start a kids’ ambassador program to bring more awareness among area youth about what Kids’ Meals does and how it could help. She had the idea to have middle school students as ambassadors because older students tend to be busier with other commitments.
Katherine Greig, who is the outreach and finance coordinator for Kids’ Meals, said the organization was excited that Schultea had the initiative to get the group started.
“(The kids) have been an amazing resource for us,” Greig said. “They have helped engage their school communities and other parents. We’re very lucky to have them.”
The 10-member group is made up of sixth and seventh graders from St. Rose of Lima Catholic School, Frank Black Middle School and Hogg Middle School. Cooper Brown, Marcelle Crochet, Drew Davis, Ellis Derryberry, Isa Flores, Cameron Michels, Amelia Neiser, Connor Romero, Jackson Schultea and Nicolas Zamora recently served as greeters for the Kids’ Meals’ Annual Harvest Luncheon.
They are also conducting an online toy drive for the four different Christmas parties that Kids’ Meals will host to accommodate all the families it serves.
Derryberry, an FBMS student who is chair of the group, has been volunteering at Kids’ Meals since she was 6 years old.
“It was important to me to become a Kids’ Meals ambassador because I have always enjoyed giving back to my community and helping those in need,” Derryberry said. “Every day in Houston one in four preschool-aged children is unsure about their next meals.”
Added co-chair Jackson Schultea, who attends St. Rose: “I didn’t know so many kids didn’t have food. Everyone deserves to eat.”
Crochet, the group treasurer and a Hogg student, is going to help organize the upcoming Shipley Donuts run and fundraiser.
“Childhood hunger is more of a problem than most people expect,” Crochet said. “Kids born with less money than others deserve food and happiness just as much as we do.”
Davis, an FBMS student, is part of the events team.
“We put together an Amazon wish list for the Kids’ Meals Holiday Party,” Davis said. “We are asking people to promote it and donate. We are also asking local schools and our families to promote it on social media.”
Davis has enjoyed making sack lunches at Kids’ Meals and taking photos with attendees at the Harvest Luncheon.
“There is a lot of childhood hunger in Houston, especially the little kids that don’t go to school yet and can’t get any food,” Davis said. “I hope that through Kids’ Meals our team can help.”
If you would like to help with the toy drive, visit https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/3DP2NBL3Q4THT?ref_=wl_share.
The ambassadors included items on the wish list for older children and teens, too, as many toy drives just focus on younger children.
Adriane Schultea said the ambassadors are looking for ways to expand their circle and engage more helpers.
“There’s no reason why other sixth- and seventh-grade students can’t help,” she said.