Dawn Burroughs had to make a promise.
The fourth-grader would not leave until Burroughs did.
Looking back, Burroughs, 58, had attended sixth through 12th grades in Elk City. Fast-forwarding to a couple of years ago, Burroughs, vice president of marketing and communications for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, saw an opportunity. It was time for the regional food bank’s end-of-school Food for Kids survey and Elk City was one of the sites scheduled to be visited.
So Burroughs took it, thinking it would be fun to “go back for a visit and see what kind of an impact our childhood hunger program was having there.” It was more than fun, it was deeply insightful, said Burroughs, of Oklahoma City, in reflecting on that experience.
On that day in the far western Oklahoma community, there was one fourth-grader who could hardly sit still during the interview.
The child was so excited to share with Burroughs her plans to someday play basketball for University of Oklahoma Coach Sherri Coale.
“When I asked if she ever has any food left over from her Food for Kids backpack, she replied that she shares the food with her dad who is a diabetic and that they try to make the food last as long as they can,” Burroughs said.
“She also said they get food stamps but it doesn’t last very long. Before the interview was over, she asked if I could add her friend to the backpack program.
“She said her friend didn’t have any food in her house and went on to explain that she’d been sharing some of her food from her backpack with her. She was genuinely worried about her friend.”
The fourth-grader Burroughs had met returned to the interview three times. Burroughs was asked why the student kept coming back to see her.
“To make sure that I had written down her friend’s name and only left after I promised to get her friend added to the program right away,” Burroughs said.