It's not uncommon for football booster parents to provide a postgame meal for their teams each Friday night. In a way, Kim Banz and Kerrie Frazier are fulfilling that role for Putnam City West (Okla.) High, with two notable exceptions: They aren't booster parents, and they didn't know anyone on the team before they started feeding them.
Instead, according to a story from The Oklahoman, the two women stepped forward to feed the team after each game following a news report that portrayed the rapid rising poverty among the families within the Putnam City West community. According to data from the 2009-10 school year, more than 70 percent of Putnam City West students were eligible for free or reduced-price school lunches, and some school officials estimate that percentage may be as high as 90 percent in the 2010-11 year.
That kind of poverty meant that some PC West players might not get enough meals until they return for school on Monday. Banz and Frazier -- both of whom live within two blocks of the school -- were shaken by the thought that students who were literally so close to home would be going hungry after pushing their growing bodies, and they sprung into action.
"I just couldn't handle hunger across the street from my house," Frazier told The Oklahoman. "I started a fundraiser on Facebook, and Kim called to ask what I was doing. I told her I wanted to feed the boys after the football games."
What followed was a mass mobilization that has now brought in teams of volunteers from local restaurants, which often donate the food to feed the athletes free of charge. The Oklahoman reported that as many as 15 volunteers now show up each week to hand out food following a game, complete with home-baked desserts.
"At a school where the kids eat two meals a day at school, Monday through Friday, to be fed after expending the number of calories you do in a football game, before you go home for the weekend is a blessing," Putnam City West coach John Jensen told The Oklahoman. "It's just awesome that a group of people who are not our parents and do not have kids at PC West are taking care of our kids. That says a lot about who those people are. That's cool."
Frazier and Banz continue to raise funds for future dinners through their Facebook campaign called "Prayers for Patriots." And while the Putnam City West season will be over by this weekend, both women said they intend to continue helping the school in one way or another because of the deep bonds they've formed during the season.
"They have a piece of my heart," Banz told The Oklahoman. "I have three daughters, and I told my husband I feel like I have a couple of boys now, too."
"We just want to raise awareness for these kids," Frazier told The Oklahoman. "We want them to know that their community has their back, and we do care about them."