An Oklahoma elementary principal said venturing through snow and ice to take food to students is well worth getting to see their smiling faces.
Laura Gragg, the elementary principal at Canadian Public School, and her husband have delivered food sacks to students stuck at home during winter storms that brought several inches of snow and record low temperatures over the past week.
The 16-year-educator said making sure students' needs were met during the icy conditions came natural to her.
"If you're an educator, your kids at your school become your personal kids," Gragg said. "You feel very strongly about them and when you're dealing with elementary kids, it's even different from high school kids because you still want to mother them a lot."
CPS qualifies for free and reduced meals as a large portion of students live in low-income households.
Gragg said the school sends food sacks home with students each Friday with some help from Shared Blessings, a McAlester nonprofit that helps with clothing, food and other needs in the area.
Winter storms brought more than 4 inches of snow and chilling temperatures — with a low of negative-7 Monday night — starting last week.
After the first round of winter storms froze the area and forced school cancellations last week, Gragg said she prepared some food sacks early in case the weather forced everyone to stay home longer than expected.
"It was just on my mind because we have students that live in poor conditions and we some elementary students who don't even have heat," Gragg said.
Gragg, who is in her third year at CPS, said she helped those households by providing some space heaters and blankets.
As the storms continued and conditions worsened, Gragg said she and her husband, Jeremy, loaded up his truck and started delivering.
"God's blessed us with a vehicle where we can do that and my husband's not scared to drive in it," Gragg said.
Jeremy Gragg is a middle school principal at Eufaula and helped with packing and driving to student's houses.
The two also enjoyed helping local children because they grew up in the area.
Jeremy Gragg attended Quinton High School, while Laura Gragg won a state basketball championship at Canadian High School before graduating in 1999.
She went on to play college basketball and the couple started their careers in coaching and education close to home.
"We both said we wanted to stay around our area," Gragg said.
Laura Gragg said she is fortunate to be close to family and believes the community comes together in times of need to help each other.
She said her coworkers also watch out for the CPS students and do anything they can to help.
"I work with a wonderful group and me being from there, I take a lot of pride in that," Gragg said.
Contact Adrian O'Hanlon III at email@example.com