Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 20, 2013

Teacher promotes volunteer work

Taylor aims for most philanthropic title.

By Lindsey Ziliak

— Teacher Jeremy Luna wants Taylor High School to be known as the most philanthropic high school in the area.

His latest project? Teaching his students to feed the hungry.

Luna first learned about Kids Against Hunger around Christmas when he, his wife and their 7-year-old son volunteered to help their church with a project in Indianapolis.

He said they spent the day at Lucas Oil Stadium as part of an assembly line “fill the bag” day for the Kids Against Hunger campaign.

“We do projects like that periodically because we want to teach our son about how to find ways to be a part of the solutions to society’s problems,” Luna said. “I saw some schools helping out, and I thought I would love to see if Kids Against Hunger can come to our school.”

The organization packages nutritious meals for starving and malnourished children and their families in developing countries and the United States.

Luna said the goal is to move families from starvation to self-sufficiency. Kids Against Hunger accomplishes this by mobilizing American children and teens on behalf of hungry children around the world.

When Luna’s family returned from their volunteer day in Indianapolis, he did an online search and found an area contact for Kids Against Hunger who told him how Taylor could help.

If the students raised $1,782, they could feed 7,128 starving children, he said.

He took the project idea to members of Taylor’s SWAG (So We All Grow) group that does service projects.

They were on board and wanted to start work immediately — at that night’s basketball game.

With tipoff two hours away, Luna put together some materials for a booth, and the students used social media to spread the word that volunteers were needed to man the booth at that night’s game. They collected $104 by just putting two hours of effort into it, Luna said.

They’re hoping they can collect the remainder of the money by the Feb. 16 packing day.

They will be seeking donations at Tuesday’s basketball game at Taylor. They also hope to hold a movie night at the high school for elementary school or intermediate school students. High school students would baby-sit or chaperone them. It would be an opportunity for parents have a date night, Luna said.

The Taylor teacher knows his students can reach their goal.

“We’ve calculated it,” Luna said. “If we can get 50 kids to raise $36 each, we can do it. But, really, we’d like to do even more. We’d love to raise more and feed more kids”

Once they have the money, they’ll set up an assembly line at the Titan Café to fill, seal and box up bags full of a rice, vegetable and protein powder mix that will then be shipped around the world to feed the hungry.

Luna recently started another program at the high school, too.

Twice a month, different student groups or athletic teams deliver Meals on Wheels to elderly people in the community. So far, the Future Business Leaders of America, choir groups, student council and various athletic teams have signed up to do deliveries.

Luna said he wants his school to be known for its philanthropy and generosity.

“Most kids don’t know what’s going on outside their own little worlds,” Luna said. “You can’t put a price on what a kid’s going to learn by doing projects like this. In fact, one student who volunteered to deliver Meals on Wheels came back so excited and saying over and over, ‘I’ve found my calling. I never knew what I wanted to do with my life, but now I know I want to do something to help the elderly.’”