Since it’s inception in August 2019, the Owls Pals program at Silex R-I School District has helped countless students in need and not even a pandemic was going to stop the good the program has done and continues to do.
Dr. Elaine Henderson, former Silex Superintendent, had visions of some sort of program like Owls Pals happening for a few years, but it never came to light.
Upon her retirement in the spring of 2017, Henderson became a member of the Lincoln County Association of Retired Teachers and School Personnel. With their help, Silex was able to start the Owls Pals program, that was then adopted by the Silex Schools National Honor Society.
“Since our start in August of 2019, we’ve grown tremendously,” stated Laura McDonald, NHS advisor. “We now serve over 30 students per week with bags of groceries to take home over the weekend.”
Like with many programs, Owls Pals had some huge hurdles to jump through with the shut down of schools last spring.
“We knew that our students still needed our services but we weren’t sure how to handle distributing the bags of groceries and wondered if we’d even have enough funding to continue the program,” said McDonald.
Superintendent Rod Hamlett stepped up to take care of the distribution concerns and the community didn’t let the program miss a beat.
“Mr. Rod Hamlett, Superintendent, had a huge part in keeping the program running smoothly. To keep personal contact to a minimum, he took it upon himself to pack each bag and be there for parents to pick up during the school day,” said McDonald. “To our pleasant surprise, our funding never decreased during this uncertain time.”
Not only did the support from the community help feed those students in need, the outpouring of donations allowed for an additional aspect to the program.
“Our community has really stepped up to help out with this program. On any given week, we will have contributions of food or money. We have certain organizations and churches that are faithful in sending money every month or so,” said McDonald. “Because of this generosity, we were able to start the Owls Care program this school year. We have toiletry items that students can pick up when they are needed. Things like deodorant, shampoo, laundry detergent, etc.”
Owls Pals has also been able to give away free turkeys and hams for the past two years during the holidays.
“Tim Randazzo, of The People Helper Project, has had a huge part in helping us with this. We were also able to put together boxes of food to help with the holiday dinners,” said McDonald.
With the help of so many this viable program known as Owls Pals has been able to overcome and persevere during trying times.
“Silex National Honor Society would like to thank our community for their generous support to the Owls Pals program and Owls Care program. We believe it is truly making an impact on our students and their families,” said McDonald.