By KAROLYN GEPHART
Two seventh grade students at Pearland JH West have taken steps in the community to help the homeless as well as those who are living in the city with very low incomes. A new Little Free Pantry is now in the city thanks to Katey Norman and Ariana Perez.
The two in the GT Academy recently completed their annual TPSP (Texas Performance Standards Project) Giving Project by building and supplying a Little Free Pantry which was installed at a local business recently in Pearland.
A special ceremony was held for the event. Pearland Mayor Tom Reid attended the ceremony as well as some other local representatives of the community.
The girls gave a speech and introduced the pantry to the community. Those in attendance brought items to donate to the pantry and a ribbon cutting ceremony was held. Afterwards, members of the community took turns filling up the pantry to signify the community coming together to help those in need. Mayor Reid stepped up and helped fill the pantry as well as the others attending, according to Katey’s mom, Carrie Khattou.
“The girls have been working on this project since school started back in September and will continue to work on it throughout the end of the school year writing essays about their cause, making a scrapbook to be graded about the process of their project, and even presenting a tri-fold presentation to the community about their project,” Khattou said.
The pantry is located permanently at Embrace Wellness & Chiropractic at 4229 Wells Drive in Pearland. Dr. Kirra Randolph, owner, has graciously offered to give the pantry a permanent home and keep it stocked with donations from the community.
Currently in the pantry there are non-perishable food items such as canned goods, beans, and rice. It is also stocked with baby items like diapers, wipes, and baby food and some toiletry items like tooth paste, tooth brushes, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, and laundry detergent.
Norman first found the idea of a free pantry two years ago on the internet.
“Katey has a huge heart for the homeless and was looking for a way to help and came across this idea on a website. When her school gave the students the project that had something to give to the community, Katey asked Ariana to join her in following her dream to do this,” her mom said.
They first needed a business partner to house the pantry. Mandy Benedix (Pearland ISD RISE Mentor/Volunteer Specialist) was able to help the girls find a business partner. Once they established a business to host the pantry, everything fell into place.
Dr. Randolph, owner of Embrace Wellness & Chiropractic at 4229 Wells Drive in Pearland, is a RISE Mentor volunteer and she saw Mandy’s call for help and immediately stepped up to offer her business for the girls to place their pantry permanently as well as gave the girls a strategy as to how she would keep the pantry filled going forward.
Dr. Randolph, who is involved with several Pearland community organizations including the Chamber of Commerce, will host drives once a quarter and will collect through donations from other organizations. She is committed to keeping the pantry going.
Norman is also a Girl Scout and a member the school volleyball, cross country and track teams. She also plays club volleyball at Texas United Volleyball. Perez is on the school volleyball and track teams and plays select softball for Illusions Gold Softball. Both are honor roll students and members of the GT Academy.
The TPSP Project is required of all students at the GT Academy at both Sablatura Middle School and Pearland JH West. Each year the TPSP Project has a different theme. In 5th grade they made quilts. In 6th grade they did a virtual visit to a country in which they were assigned.
This year their project had to be about giving back to the community as part of the TPSP Giving Project.