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Vail special education students volunteer to make a difference

Group packs meals for other student in need of weekend meals
Student and worker at Vail food bank
Posted at 9:52 PM, Apr 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-12 08:07:16-04

VAIL, Ariz.(KGUN) — A Vail School District program is helping special education students gain life skills while helping others in need. On Monday mornings, a group of students arrive at the Greater Vail Community ReSources Food Bank.

The students are spending part of their day packing meals for other students who need extra help with food during the weekend.

Vail Special Education teacher Julie Wilson says the volunteer program has been rewarding for everyone involved. The program has been around for about 15 years and the work with special education students started about 6 years ago. Vail Resources Food Bank manager Liana Hicks agrees and says some students need more food than what they have available at home.

"We’re making about 150 bags a week. We’re a program for kids in special education, we teach them the soft skills of being employed. We bring kids out to teach them how to follow directions. They come in and work and they deliver the bags to schools that they have previously been to,” Wilson said.

“We’re realizing that a lot of students only eat at school. But what happens on Saturday and Sunday? The need for food and nourishment for these kids does not stop on Friday,” Hicks said.

The work involved in the group's volunteerism gives students some of the tools needed for everyday life. St. Rita in the Desert church is also involved in the process.

“There’s not only just learning what’s in every one of these packets and how to find it in the grocery store. There’s also socializing, getting out and learning about crossing the parking lot, crossing the street, and using a stop light, just being involved with the community,” Wilson said.

Meanwhile, the meals are consistently delivered to schools on Thursdays. Wilson says the food bank is always in need of non-perishable foods, animal food and cash donations

“What we try to have in each bag is 11 to 12 items. Two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, three snacks, milk, juice, fruit, or a fruit cup,” Hicks said.

“They’re so proud and so very helpful, I wished I could get more kids involved,” Wilson said

Shawndrea Thomas is an anchor and investigative reporter for KGUN 9. Shawndrea is living her dream as a journalist who’s passionate about making a difference. Share your story ideas and important issues with Shawndrea by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.