Teens feed the needy

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- Every day, the Salvation Army gives back by helping those with empty stomachs.

On Tuesday, a group of teenagers decided to give back to the organization.

A group of seven culinary arts students from Westover High School prepared and served an evening meal for 75 people at the Salvation Army in downtown Albany.

"It helps with our cost and it's a treat to the people we serve," said Judy Russell, the Salvation Army's bookkeeper. "This lets (the students) know there is a need to serve the community and that there is a need for a helping hand. When they're grown, they'll get the feel of helping people.

"This is wonderful."

The students, who are members of the school's Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) organization, is planning on making this a regular activity.

"This is just about giving back," said Robert Schley, the school's culinary arts instructor. "Most of these kids come from families that do this anyway.

"We think it's important that they know the importance of giving back to the community."

Tuesday was the second time the group has been to the Salvation Army. The first trip was in December when FCCLA was giving out teddy bears, at which time Schley saw the facility's kitchen and got an idea.

"The Salvation Army is here serving meals to whoever is in need of a meal without asking for anything in return," Schley said. "When I mentioned to the parents we were doing this, they were very supportive.

"This is a springboard for us to do this every nine weeks."

This is an initiative that Schley called a "plus, plus" for the community.

"I've never seen a group of kids fail when they've gotten involved in something like this," he said.

The meal -- which consisted of baked chicken, green beans, potato salad, a roll, strawberry shortcake and tea -- was prepared at the school and then brought to the Salvation Army's kitchen on West Second Avenue to put on the final touches.

The Salvation Army typically feeds 50-100 people a night. The group obtained the funds to pull the dinner together through a fundraiser it coordinated earlier in the year.