The Harker Heights High School FFA chapter gathered donated food and clothes to help families in a difficult place during this holiday and into the new year.

Students, teachers and supporters gave generously, providing a huge surge of food for the Ronald McDonald Family Room that serves family members at the McLane Children’s Hospital in Temple.

The chapter also spearheaded a toy drive to add to the children hospital’s supply for delivery to children in the hospital on Christmas and anytime a child reaches a milestone while receiving care.

Hospital Volunteer Services Manager Lisa Gingerich said she was overwhelmed with the huge donation, which six students and two teachers delivered to the Temple hospital Dec. 15.

When parents and other family members face the terrible uncertainty of hospitalizing a child, the room — furnished like a kitchen and living room — becomes a welcome respite, Gingerich said.

Having snacks and food easy to prepare readily available is a huge help, she explained to the students making the delivery.

Agriculture teacher Jay Bohac has seen his school’s generosity in past donation drives and wanted to find an organization to become a consistent partner.

He said he knows personally people who have counted on the Ronald McDonald House for shelter during a family member’s hospital stay and liked the idea of giving locally to help such a worthy cause.

“I liked how we could have a direct effect,” he said on the day of delivery Friday, the final day of the semester. “It’s not just for a holiday. This is something they do all year.”

Students and teachers said they hoped to do a similar drive in the spring.

“We’re doing this because we care about our community,” said Harker Heights junior Haley Molina. “I like it. If a child is in the hospital, parents have concerns and don’t need to have to think about getting gifts.”

Santa’s elves would be packaging gifts so the big man could do his annual delivery Christmas Day at the Temple hospital, Gingerich said.

“This is a great way to know that our gifts are going to kids,” said Harker Heights senior Sabryna Parnell. “This is something they will have year around. It’s also a good way to send Christmas cheer. Maybe the bad will go away for just a little bit.”

Teachers Bohac and Jamay Michael joined Parnell, Molina, sophomores Lauren Wolf and Lindsey Ratcliffe and juniors Jayson Bohac and Joshua Ratcliffe delivering the food and toys.

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