PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla - Special needs teacher Laura Klosterman had to do something. Two years ago, she realized some kids at Oak Hammock K-8 School probably weren't getting enough to eat over the weekend. She says they'd come to school with belly or headaches.
"Because they're helpless. They can't go to the store and get food, and the families are in need," said Klosterman.
So, she started "Grace Packs." It's a food program for kids in need, inspired by a Manatee Academy project. Grace Packs started with 11 kids last October. Since then, the numbers of kids has grown to 40.
"I love them, and I'm very touched when you see them in the hallway, and they'll give me a thumbs up because it's that sort of secret way of saying I know who you are, and they know that I know who they are," said Klosterman. "They're very special."
The kids receive a bag of food to take home Friday. It's meant to last them the entire weekend. It contains breakfast foods like oatmeal and dinner foods like soup.
Parents, teachers, even people Klosterman doesn't know donate the food. Seventh grader Dorian Adams' dad donates regularly. Now, the 12-year-old helps pack Grace Packs.
"I think they think of me as a big role model, like, wow this kid is giving me food for the weekend and helping my family out," said Adams.
Klosterman says every week, the program gets a few more students. Teachers, nurses, even students themselves identify who's in need. Klosterman says now that her program is grounded, she wants to help the weekend food initiative spread.
"We want now for other Treasure Coast schools to know that this is a program that they can absolutely start," said Klosterman, who wants to advise interested parties.
To catch up with her for help, call her school at 772-344-4490. Phone there also if you want to donate food or money to Grace Packs.