Near the back of Barbara Goleman Senior High School’s main office building, surrounded by offices of administrators, sits a small pantry room tucked away from view. It is filled with canned foods, clothes, toiletries and more.
Eight years ago, this room became the foundation for Giving Gators, a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting students in need. Volunteers gather around the hallway adjacent to this pantry to organize boxes of supplies with the hopes of helping those who may lack them.
Throughout hurricane season and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the organization worked with Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid to deliver these supplies across the area.
These days, it also offers community service hours to students who volunteer every week at the pantry.
Daylin Garcia, founder of Giving Gators and active community member in Miami Lakes, expressed the gratitude as the organization closes out the 2022-23 school year.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” said Garcia. “Just seeing their smiles when you give them that backpack or give them a toy for Christmas or when you give them the food that they need, it’s the best reward ever.”
Giving Gators plans to expand its program and move its pantry to a larger facility on behalf of Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ Project UP-START in May.