SMU journalism students Cristin Espinosa, Juliet Traylor, Gwen Everett and Myriam Diaz contributed to this article.
Elementary school children rushed in excitement as they gathered Wednesday morning around the giant truck parked outside their school, filled with colorful bags of food. Lake Highlands students, volunteers and staff worked together to ensure that each student at Forest Lane Academy received a bag to take home to their families.
Every year, Packs for Lake Highlands, or Packs4LH, provides food for students at a Lake Highlands school to take home for Thanksgiving break. This year’s recipients are the students of Forest Lane Academy. Thanks to the Packs4LH volunteers, students at Forest Lane won’t have to worry about where they will get their meals during their week off from school.
“I just think it’s so amazing for our families because our kids during the school day get breakfast, lunch and a snack, and so we worry over the holidays about their lack of access to good food,” says Megan Gonzalez, Forest Lane Academy’s assistant principal.
“Food insecurity, I mean, it’s a real thing,” organizer Amy Timmerman says. “It’s not just, you know, in other parts of the world. It’s here in Dallas and in our neighborhoods.”
Timmerman is a board member for 100 Women of Lake Highlands, one of the organizations that helps coordinate Packs4LH, which ran a packing event Tuesday night before delivering the packs Wednesday morning. This is the third year of Packs4LH, and with 950 packs completed in under two hours, the packing night has become a well-oiled machine.
“The first year, we tried to do it more as, like, giving Thanksgiving meals,” Timmerman said. “Then we realized what these families really need is food to sustain them for the whole week.”
The event is made possible by donations. Fundraising begins with a kickoff event in October, when community members can “buy a pack” for $45. The Knights of Columbus, another Lake Highlands volunteer organization, handles donations, ranging from $20 all the way up to $1,500.