TAMPA, Fla. — “It only takes one person to start something that changes the lives of everybody,” says Principal Jamie Gerding to one of her classes Friday morning at Booker T. Washington Elementary in Tampa.
This morning, Gerding is referring to a woman who organized a large donation of food to the students before their week off school for spring break.
That big-hearted woman is Natasha Goodley, and she’s the reason more than 450 students at the school is getting a large, busting-at-the-seams bag full of food, enough to get them through their entire week off.
It cost about $2,400 to do.
“I’m grateful we could do this for everyone,” Goodley tells ABC Action News.
Goodley raised the money, ordered food, organized help from friends and community leaders to pack bags full of food, and then delivered a bag to each of the students on Friday morning.
“It’s an assumption that kids are eating, it’s an assumption we all make,” says Goodley. “But once you really look into it and do some research you realize that many of the kids are not eating, and for me it’s not acceptable.”
Goodley, who runs White & Black Consulting in Tampa, made headlines late last year for helping to pay off the school lunch debts of families at 20 different schools in Hillsborough County.
But even paying off those debts won't be much help to the students when they’re off from school, so Goodley has taken her efforts to feed kids from less-privileged families another step further.
“When you think schools, you think book bags and pencils and books, and that’s great we need those things, but we don’t often think that the students who have the breakfast and lunches served to them at school, and what happens during summer break and vacation,” says Principal Jamie Gerding to ABC Action News.
Booker T. Washington Elementary did recently launch their own food pantry, and it is filled with non-perishable items. But it was not intended to feed the entire school for an entire week, as Goodley and her friends are doing.
So this donation is a huge boost to the hard-working parents, some working more than one job to make ends meet, who typically budget around the fact that their kids have food provided to them at school.
“Knowing I get to send our kids home with food because of Ms. Goodley and her organization and her volunteers, I can leave for spring break feeling less concerned and less stressed and knowing that our kids are taken care of because of that community partnership,” adds Gerding.
To help Goodley and her continuing mission of feeding Hillsborough County kids, you can donate some money by clicking HERE.