Special Education Teacher Touches Lives and Helps Feed Community

March 4, 2019 in Volunteer Spotlight

At the beginning of 2016, Stephanie Luhm made a different type of New Year’s Resolution. She decided to focus on helping others, rather than focusing on herself.

Luhm, who works in early childhood special education, teaches in a school where many children are part of the free and reduced meal program. Every Thursday, many of these children also receive their Weekend Backpacks, which are assembled by volunteers at Ozarks Food Harvest.

Luhm began her volunteer journey with The Food Bank because she was particularly touched by a little girl in her class who received a backpack each week.

“This little girl had difficulty communicating her wants and needs and struggled with emotional regulation. Because of this, she frequently cried when she couldn’t communicate her frustrations. However, each Thursday afternoon, when she received her backpack, she would physically light up at the sight of it,” said Luhm. “It was a moment of pure joy for her. She would carry it proudly to the bus (despite its heavy weight for a 4-year-old child) and wanted it to sit next to her on the ride home.”

Luhm couldn’t help but notice how a simple bag of food made such a huge difference in the life of the young girl, so she began giving time at Ozarks Food Harvest several times a month.

Every other Thursday evening during the school year, Luhm helps pack Weekend Backpacks or Senior Food boxes. During the summer when school is out of session, she enjoys volunteering during the daytime sessions.

Over the past two years, she has donated more than 200 hours of time to The Food Bank. She plans to keep volunteering for years to come.

“I personally strive to put ‘more good’ back in this world than I take out. If you think about all of the negative aspects and problems in the world, it can be disheartening. It can almost feel defeating,” she expressed. “By committing to volunteer a couple times a month, I know that I am trying to do my part in helping others.”

We are extremely thankful for Stephanie’s heart for giving back in the local community. Learn more about volunteering with Ozarks Food Harvest.