It’s two-a-days on the field at South Garland High School right now in the final stretch before school’s back in session. They’re often long strenuous workouts in the year’s hottest conditions, and Coach Josh Ragsdale saw a need among several of his freshman players just a few practices in.
“With nutrition, the young men don’t understand how important it is until they get put in a situation. They get put in hot weather. They get put through a strenuous workout,” said Ragsdale.
And while his staff places just as much emphasis on life off the field as on, he says some things are just out of their control.
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“When they’re in school, you know, GISD does a wonderful job of feeding our kids. They have opportunities for breakfast. They have opportunities for lunch. Right now, with them not being in school, we don’t know what they’re eating,” said Ragsdale.
That’s why he turned to the school’s recently created alumni association this week to ask for help.
“All he did was post it on our alumni page. It went out to the alumni. We sent out a paypal donation site because we are a 501c3, and the donations just started coming in,” said the association’s treasurer Tina Hurley.
Within hours, there were hundreds of dollars. Three days later, there’s $1,500.
“Within 24 hours, 50 jars of peanut butter were delivered. I thought, ‘OK. This is great. This is wonderful. Our kids our going to love this,’ and it just kept happening,” said Ragsdale.
Soon an equipment closet sat up at as a makeshift pantry was at capacity. Now donations are filling a nearby concession stand and a freezer’s on the way.
“It’s been touching to them. It’s been touching to me. I’ve sat in my office and there have been tears from this 300 pound man’s face, because it’s neat to see our kids as happy as they are,” said Ragsdale.
The alumni say there should be enough food to last several months already in place, and they plan to continue taking donations to stock it up throughout the season.
“I just want them to know there are people out here who want to help and want them to succeed and want them to be the best that they can be,” said Hurley.
And according to Ragsdale, it’s felt. He says the biggest value to come from this incredible act of generosity is the connection that has been created between South Garland students past and present.
“Food is perishable. Food goes bad, but those relationships with our young men and our staff and school and alumni is something that will last them forever,” said Ragsdale.