CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) - Today, more than 400 students at West Texas A&M University came together for the annual Maroon Hearts Project, which is part of Buff Branding, an introduction to campus life for incoming freshman.
As a new herd of Buffs makes its way onto campus, they are helping the High Plains Food Bank (HPFB) to meet food need by packing tens of thousands of meals.
"It's just really cool to see that they have that loving heart and that they're ready to help people and do what they can to make a huge impact," said Morgan Robbins, Maroon Hearts Project Director. "...it's been great to see how excited they are about it and it's been really awesome."
One student who was unable to attend during Buff Branding his freshman year is doing his part as a Buff Leader to make the most of the project.
"The incoming freshman, you know, first thing that they're doing before they even start classes is giving back to their community, and that's just really great and empowering for WT and for the surrounding areas and for the families in need," said Levi Zemanuel, a Buff Branding Leader. "Cause one box is 36 meals, so 36 meals, three times a day, that's 12 days. Like, that's amazing. That gives somebody else another week to be able to eat and not have to worry about food."
That is good news as the HPFB is having trouble keeping up with demand in the Panhandle this summer, and even heading into the fall, as donations consistently decline.
"To have, you know, the equivalent of 50,000 meals being prepared as we speak, so we can distribute those within really the next couple of weeks is awesome," Zack Wilson, Executive Director of HPFB, said. "It's literally food out the door for us as soon as we get this back in, so we couldn't say thank you enough."
George Pacheco, Jr., the Director of Experiential Learning at WT, said the Maroon Hearts Project, which is part of Rogers LEAD WT, is entirely student-led from start to finish.
"...and it's only the Saturday before school starts. There's a lot of things they could be doing. Instead, they're choosing to spend their time here, so that says a lot about our students here at WT," Pacheco, Jr. added.
Throughout the top 29 counties of the Panhandle the HPFB serves, they feed about 8,000 to 9,000 families on average each month.
Wilson said Saturday's food drive will be extremely helpful, but the food need will only increase as the holiday season nears.
The Maroon Hearts Project is sponsored by the Office of Campus to Community and the Office of Student Enrollment, Engagement and Success.
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