Some of us know what it’s like to have a little, and some of us know what it’s like to have plenty. First grade teacher Marvin Callahan can especially relate to not having much. But even though he grew up in a poorer family, his parents always made sure that there was food on the table – even if it was just enough to get by.
That is why he his heart was broken to see so many of his students come to school hungry. His heart was so broken that he had to do something about it, even if the money had to come out of his own pocket.
Every morning Mr. Callahan not only takes the attendance, but he asks all of his students whether or not they have had breakfast. If the answer is no he sends them marching down the hallway to the cafeteria to get the most important meal of the day… the meals are already paid for by Mr. Callahan (with his teacher’s salary).
Mr. Callahan can tell the difference when his students are well fed and rested, "I look into my kids' eyes, and I can see that sadness and apprehension, and the discomfort of not being their powerful, strong, engaging little selves," he said. "Kids are boundless, but the ones who aren't being taken care of properly with proper nutrition and rest... you can tell."
But Mr. Callahan doesn’t just make sure that his students are fed during school days, he started the Backpack Program to help feed schoolchildren on weekends too. Every Friday students in need are sent home with a backpack with two breakfasts, two lunches, and two dinners.
Retired teachers and community volunteers come to the school on Thursdays to help fill the backpacks. Having the community come together to see that the children are thriving is Mr. Callahan’s favorite part of the program. And this compassionate teacher doesn’t plan on stopping. He hopes to provide children in need with warm winter clothes.
"You have to think of them as human beings... The loving, sweet, adorable first-graders in my classroom," he says. "I wish I could take them all home, but I can't. I just hope that when I get home and open my refrigerator and there's food in there, I hope that they have the same thing."
Credit: Sunny Skyz