GRANDVIEW — The five-member team assigned to the squirrel route on bus No.1 assembled outside school district offices shortly after 11 a.m. on Friday, March 20 to load their six red, insulated Cambro Go Bags, each separately filled with 25 lunches and breakfast bags onto the first bench seats of the school bus while anxiously eager to embark on their third day of food delivery.

“We work closely with our kids and know some of their situations. I’m really excited to be here and part of this important program,” Thompson Elementary Para-professional Anastacia Brito conveyed. “As we show up at the families’ homes, they see us and get like excited, happy and somewhat of a peace as well. We see that!”

17 buses canvassed in-town and rural routes in about an hour bringing about 2,200 hot lunches featuring fish sticks and familiar faces to where students are instructed to stay – home. The responsive and developing program rolled out of the district kitchen and gymnasium where food was prepared and kept warm, assembled and carted outside to the staging area.

School staff and bus drivers totaling nearly about 50 volunteers, chose to sign up to be a part of the operation - serving students with a structured resemblance of academic enrichment.

Brito, DiAnn Cooper, Sylvia Jimenez, Angelica and Yesica Mendoza shared in the overall concern about helping to feed the growing number of students in need while taking an active role in making a positive difference during this pandemic crisis.

“When we arrived at that first stop on [Wilson Hwy] and Deangela Court, there was like maybe just eight kids on the first day [Wednesday] but it took my heart,” school bus driver Jimenez described. “Just to see those kids’ smiles and rushing to the buses was more than just an accomplishment – a happy feeling deep in your heart.”

As the noontime buses travel their regular routes, a sense of normalcy appears outside the bus window with students of all ages waiting at the scheduled stop to receive their meals. Team members’ apprehensive feelings quickly turned to enthusiastic smiles.

“It feels really good to do this,” Smith Elementary Para-pro Angelica Mendoza expressed.

Patrick Shelby can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 110 or email PShelby@SunnysideSun.com

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