From staff reports
When a need for assistance arose following February’s historic winter storm, John Paul II High School’s softball team stepped up to the plate. Working with the North Texas Food Bank, the JPII squad on Feb. 20 volunteered to help those in need, aiding with the distribution of meals in the wake of the storm that left millions without power and/or water.
By lending a hand on short notice, the student-athletes truly were embracing the school’s motto, said JPII President Jake Schroepfer.
“It’s so special to see our coaches and student-athletes doing incredible things in the community as they manifest our school motto, ‘Seek to Serve,’” he said.
The storm, which included record snowfall and single-digit temperatures, froze the state’s electric systems, leaving more than 4.3 million in the dark. The outages, first expected to be “rolling” and only a few hours, stretched to days for millions of Texans. The weather also wreaked havoc with distribution efforts across the north Texas region, including those of Hello Fresh, a national meal-kit provider. Instead of letting thousands of pounds of food go to waste, the company offered the boxed and labeled food kits to North Texas Food Bank, with the agreement that all previously placed names and addresses would be removed or concealed prior to distribution.
Jennifer Stewart, senior manager of supply chain at North Texas Food Bank and the parent of a JPII softball alum, reached out to the school on Feb. 19 asking for volunteers. Stewart said that NTFB was scrambling to find help after receiving “300,000 pounds of fresh food kits.”
Because the food was all perishable, there was a sense of urgency in getting these meals out to the community.
“We realized at about 3:30 Friday afternoon we would need additional hands to make it happen. One short email to the JPII softball team and in 30 minutes we had 45 volunteers scheduled to show up at the food bank at 9 a.m. the next day.”
Displaying their spirit of service, the JPII volunteers sprang into action on short notice.
“Our volunteers unpacked, marked out/stickered, and repacked pallets,” said Jayme Baker-Nelson, JPII softball coach. “I’m proud of our girls and the Cardinal family. They recognized that there are others who are less fortunate and stepped up to the plate when called upon.”
Once the kits were relabeled and repackaged, NTFB handled distribution. Stewart praised the members of the Plano school’s softball team for helping to make that happen.
“After the week we’ve named ‘Snovid’ — a weather disaster on top of the pandemic — they really answered the call for the North Texas Food Bank and our hungry neighbors,” Stewart said. “We are so thankful.”