Members of the Hancock High School Interact Club on Wednesday put together food packages to make certain students don't go hungry over the long holiday break.

Thanks to the Hancock High School Interact Club, there are several students and their families who won't go hungry this holiday season.

HHS Interact members gathered in the school library on Wednesday to prepare food packages for people who might otherwise have gone without as part of the Rotary Club "Pantry Buddies" program.

"Some kids will get these packages once a week between now and Christmas break," Dr. William Tucker -- Hancock High teacher and Interact sponsor -- said Wednesday.

Tucker said the goal is to have enough food to send home with about 60 students each week.

HHS Interact is an off-shoot of the Rotary Club of Bay St. Louis.

"Interact clubs bring together young people ages 12-18 to develop leadership skills while discovering the power of Service Above Self," according to Rotary.org.

"The Rotary Club buys the food from Feeding the Gulf Coast," Cynthia Chauvin -- executive director of Hancock County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and chairwoman of the Bay Rotary Club's Pantry Buddies program -- said Wednesday.

Hancock High's counselor Paula Lee and other staff members determine who qualifies for the Pantry Buddies plan, Chauvin said.

"It's very confidential," she said. "Some people don't like to ask for help," so those who benefit from the program remain anonymous.

"Unfortunately, there are a lot of kids whose families can't afford as much food as they might need for the weekends or holidays. The students are off for a week for Thanksgiving -- that's a long time if you don't have enough to eat. And Thanksgiving is at the end of the month. For some families, the end of the month is a real struggle.

"I think this is a great start to the partnership with the school and the Interact Club, and on behalf of Rotary, I want to say we're very grateful for that partnership."

Interact Club President Jonathan Dabel, 18, said he and his fellow club members are happy for the opportunity to help.

"We're try to work with the community and make it better," Jonathan said. "Some kids may be shy and not want to come forward shying they need food, but I think people can definitely benefit from this."

Jonathan said when he first joined HHS Interact Club last year, there were only 40 members. Now, there are more than 100.

"My goal is to do as much good in the school and the community as I possibly can," he said.

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