Austin charter school distributes holiday meals to students, families in need

Chris Flores-Mendez has worked hard to get where he is now. He is only a couple credits away from graduating from Texans Can Academy in Austin.

"I want to go to ACC, study for culinary. After that I want to earn my way to be an accountant," he said.

It wasn't easy getting to this point. Chris once became homeless and struggled in high school, which led him to the school that is committed to assisting students who didn’t succeed in a traditional high school setting.

"I'm grateful for Texans Can because they help me more than any other school I’ve been to," said Mendez-Flores.

"They have always been a high school that allows kids that have not been successful in their regular high schools, to prosper and complete their high school diploma," said principal Alba Marrero.

Chris is well on his way to reaching his goals, but he also wants to give back. He is getting the chance to do just that, with the school's annual turkey distribution.

"We are distributing about 40 turkeys, 20 hams for students here," said Rachael Cayton Barden,  who is a licensed clinical social worker. "We do have a large amount of food insecurity at our schools, a lot of families that go without, so we wanted to provide some assistance for the holidays."

"I always wanted to help people but never found the courage to," said Flores-Mendez, as he volunteered on Wednesday.

Chris and his family also received a holiday meal. For many families this may be the first Thanksgiving they actually celebrated since the beginning of the pandemic, and many families may be struggling to make ends meet.

"There has been an overwhelming request for turkeys. There were 75 turkeys and hams requested that is a lot of students and families that can benefit from this," said Cayton Barden.

Organizers plan on continuing to have the distribution each year. For Chris, the reward is seeing his fellow peers and families smile.

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