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Auburn High School staff provide care by the crate full for families in need

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Auburn Care Packages

ROCKFORD (WREX) — Hosea Harris has a special holiday tradition.

His family looks for another family to help each year, providing in some way to help them get through whatever struggle they are living in.

For this year, one filled with challenges for so many people, Harris wanted to do more.

He found his opportunity at work over Thanksgiving, as the Freshman Academy liasion for Auburn High School.

"One of the teachers here reached out to me. She emailed me about doing something for the families of students. We met the next Monday, put a menu together, emailed all our freshman staff and it all just clicked together," Harris said.

So what was on the menu?

Ham, salad, potatoes, eggs.

A lot of staple foods to help families get by.

It wasn't just food being served up either.

Essential products were bought as well like toothbrushes, toothpaste, paper plates and plastic cutlery.

Everything was packed into care packages (care crates really) to hand deliver to families of freshmen Auburn students chosen by staff.

"I actually made the phone calls to the parents to let them know this is what we're doing and just some of the responses I got almost had me to tears," Harris said.

The Thanksgiving deliveries did so well, the schools gave the green light to do it again for Christmas.

More crates were put together this go around, with five families getting the packages for Christmas up from four for Thanksgiving.

Harris, along with Freshman Academy assistant prinicpal Melinda Cattell, packed up a bus with the fully assembled crates and dropped them off to their chosen families.

The actually delivery is something Cattell knows all the staff wanted to be a part of, showing how much everyone came together to help.

"The staff really rallied and really wanted to help out the community. It was really important for us to focus on all the positives we could do for the families," Cattell said.

While these efforts are from the freshman staff specifically, many of the families have multiple kids that are students at the school, helping students at multiple grade levels at the same time.

Harris and Cattell both hope that momentum continues with these deliveries, making it a quarterly event to provide for more and more families who need it.

"Maybe next time we help 10 families so then we're hitting 20 families in our community that really could've used that help," Cattell said.

Even though kids aren't in the classroom, educators are finding a way to help them and their families through a difficult year.

If you know any person or group working to make our home a better place, you can fill out a nomination form here or reach out to eleake@wrex.com.

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Evan Leake

Evan Leake anchors for 13 News Today and 13 News at Noon. Evan grew up in Darien, Illinois, a south-west suburb of Chicago. He came to WREX in 2017 and worked his way to the anchor desk in May of 2019. He coordinates both the Teacher of the Week and Inspiring 815 series for 13 News. You can connect with Evan at eleake@wrex.com or Evan Leake on Facebook.

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