After Lakewood Elementary teacher Margaux Robin got the news in April that the state’s schools would be closed for the foreseeable future, her mind jumped to her students, both past and present.
Some of them might need help – and she was willing to grant that help, however she could, without a second thought.
“Actions speak louder than words, and we wanted to show students we’re not just your teachers, we really care about you,” said Robin, a speech-language pathologist.
Robin is one of several educators in St. Charles Parish who have made it a point to devote their time and resources to helping students and their families overcome the hardships that accompany a lasting, unexpected school closure. In Robin’s case, a call to Lakewood Principal Kelli Oertling to ask if there was anything she could do to help deliver food to the families of students in the district who might be in need proved fateful.
“It started from talking to one of my friends and another teacher on Facebook. We were worried about one of our previous students … whether their family would have food, have transportation while all of this was going on,” Robin said.
“A lot of parents were being laid off and are they going to be able to feed their children? It was a big concern of mine and many other teachers.”
She asked Oertling for permission to secure food and deliver meals to families in need. Soon after, Oertling asked if Robin would take on a lead role in that project, and now, each Tuesday, she brings meals to families of students in need.
“We go every Tuesday. I take my husband’s truck,” Robin said. “I asked on Facebook who would be interested in volunteering for it … I have my route and we go from there. It’s been growing larger and larger.”
She takes the necessary precautions, wearing a mask and keeping appropriate distance from each family as she makes her deliveries.
“I’d go and drop them on the porch for deliveries. I’d knock and then back away … I don’t think they even knew I was at the door sometimes,” Robin said.
But even with precautions, there is risk involved for her and the other educators like her who are out and about lending a helping hand – certainly more than simply staying indoors. The knowledge of COVID-19 and the ways it could spread was even more uncertain when the project began weeks ago.
Even so, she said she never gave inaction a second thought in this case.
“Not at all,” she said. “I do have twins at home and I knew I wanted to be safe. I wear my mask and do everything possible with that … but no, I wanted to help. We’re with our students for eight, nine hours a day. They become part of your family. You establish that trust and bond and let them know you care.”
A number of those positively impacted have expressed their gratitude.
“They’ve helped the kids and I to the max,” said Lynn Mullins, grandmother of two district students.
“They’ve gone above and beyond the call of humanity and duty to reach out and help us. They’re angels from heaven with love in their hearts and true dedication to their students.”
In fact, her twins come along on the route with her, though they stay in the car. She hopes to be setting a positive example for them on the importance of helping others.
The team is feeding up to 47 students a week now and the volunteers have looked for more ways to help, for example helping students have a happy Easter by delivering treatbags to the children.
“I remember as a child, Easter and Christmas were always big, fun holidays for me,” Robin said. “I wanted to make sure these babies were taken care of and could enjoy it, too.”