LAKEWOOD, Colo. - The positive influence of educators often reaches beyond the classroom. For a teacher in Lakewood, her impact benefits an entire community.
Alexandria Ralat is a 4th grade teacher at Lakewood's Molholm Elementary School, but that is just her day job.
"So, from seven to four I am a teacher. Then from four to seven I come in and work in my food pantry," said Ralat.
Ralat's started a food pantry in her school when she noticed something in her classroom that broke her heart. Many of her students could not focus on their studies because they were hungry.
"I think it's unconscionable in Colorado that we have children who do not have enough food to eat," said Ralat.
So, despite long hours in the classroom, Ralat volunteers to run an after school food bank she calls Feeding Minds, Enriching Lives.
"We work all day, we're counselors, we're teachers, we're psychologists and at the end of the day I need to know that my kids are well fed," said Ralat.
Feeding Minds, Enriching Lives now serves 350 families a month. The volunteers in the food pantry are Ralat's students.
"I think this is amazing. It's a good thing for the community to have. It's a huge help, a huge, huge help," said Chris, a client.
Ralat's passion feeds families but it also has students doing better in class and learning a valuable lesson about giving back.
"I want them to be successful and hopefully someday come back and give to their community and help someone," said Ralat.
Yet for all its success, Feeding Minds, Enriching Lives food pantry always needs help. The non-profit has an aging van, used to pick-up food donations, that needs a new transmission.
Gasoline cards and cash donations are needed as well. Since the pantry is a non-profit that works with the Food Bank of the Rockies.
That means one dollar can buy 15 pounds of food.
To learn more go to www.feedingmindsenrichinglives.org