Teen refugees living in North Dakota found a way to thank their adoptive city by starting a good pantry and delivery service to help feed the hungry.
Nearly 15 percent of Fargo’s residents are living below the poverty line, 2016 census data shows.
For many of the students originally from places like Sudan, Nepal, Haiti, volunteering for such an important cause is personal.
“For my family, sometimes it’s hard for us to get food. We’re not homeless,” Maria Modi, a senior at Fargo North High school and refugee from South Sudan, told ABC News. “My family used to be in that same exact boat.”
Modi is among the group of students who participate in the Legacy Children’s Foundation. The program, which consists mostly of refugees, enables kids to receive extra help in reading and math and promotes community service.
The students often volunteer with elderly people in nursing homes, but some of them decided that this year they wanted to help feed people in the community.
“It was started by the kids and it is run by the kids,” Mary Jean Dehne, the executive director of the program, told ABC News.
The ambitious project was divided into three separate entities. On Thursday, the students run a food pantry, but they also provide soup and blankets for a local homeless shelter serving people who suffer from addiction and a food delivery service for members of the community who need help obtaining groceries.
The program has changed the lives of the people participating in it, said Legacy acting president Peter Santial, who was born in the U.S. after his parents fled their home country of Haiti.
“We are really blessed to be giving back,” Santial said of the food pantry operation. “A lot of these kids are so happy to provide to the community, you can tell.”
Even though Modi and her family have a home, they still sometimes struggle with food insecurity, she said. Modi is one of six children.
“Sometimes my mom would make food, and that’s the only thing she would make for the week and that’s what we would eat,” she said.
Santial said it is a “common misconception” that only people who are homeless are going hungry.
The pantry focuses on providing people with protein like chicken and beef, but they offer different food to their patrons every week, Dehne said. For Thanksgiving, the students handed out turkeys and other holiday foods.
“It makes me so happy,” said Modi. “I will never forget where I came from, so whatever I can do to give back, that’s the best thing I can do.”
(H/T: ABC News)