Students in need have a new resource at Lake Highlands High School.
What began as a single counselor's efforts to feed homeless and hungry students has blossomed into a full-fledged sanctuary for kids barely getting by.
The resource is more than just a food pantry or clothes closet for students. In some cases, it serves the entire family.
Several dedicated PTA members deliver produce in the morning to Lake Highland High School’s Wildcat Den, a discrete former closet enlarged to accommodate a fresh fruit cart and several shelves of food, clothes and toiletries.
Principal Dr. Joshua Delich took over a year ago. He says more than half of the 2,600 students receive free or reduced lunch and about 50 students are homeless.
“We have tons and tons of dialects here at Lake Highlands High School,” he said. “So it really is the melting pot of the world.”
Counselor Rhonda Boston would keep a stash of food for students in need.
“We have a very diverse student body,” she said. “But that also means students who live in hotels that are paid for by the night or by the week. Sometimes, they are doubled up living with friends.”
Dr. Delich enlisted the PTA to address obvious needs.
Former PTA President Allison Griffin kicked the effort into high gear and secured funding for the den
“You live in a neighborhood where there are million dollar homes,” she said. “And to find out that there are kids who are homeless is staggering.”
Griffin helped roll out Fresh Fruit Friday for all students to enjoy and especially helping those who need a little extra to get through the weekend.
The Wildcat Den is possible thanks to donations and a $30,000 grant from 100 Women of Lake Highlands, a philanthropic group.
Organizers say they're keeping it replenished by sending out email blasts to the community with requested items to ensure they receive healthy food students will enjoy.