JOHNSTON - Scott Syroka, a 2012 Johnston High School grad is giving back to his alma matter in a very special way.
Syroka is currently working in San Francisco, but even thousands of miles away, he is doing something remarkable for his neighborhood with the help of a local non-profit. The 23-year-old started Generation Pay It Forward, group that has provided local students in need with more than 100 meals so far this school year.
"Tap into their community and giving back to where they came from," says Andrea Cook, program director at Partnership Place.
Cook says that is the motto for the Johnston partnership's newest pantry fundraiser. Grads can pay it forward to the next generation by raising money to help end weekend hunger for kids at Summit Middle School.
Cook and Syroka work together on the project from different locations. Syroka in California and Cook the only employee at the pantry location in Johnston. He focuses on the fundraising and donations, she the distributing.
"We feed 100-120 kids a weekend here in Johnston through the program as it exists right now," said Cook. "He (Syroka) was looking to add another entire school which would add probably 80-100 kids."
Adding an entire school was a big undertaking, but between Syroka, Cook and everyone who's donated, they made it happen.
"At last check we are 60-65% of the way to the goal, said Cook."
That works out to about $15,000 and hundreds of sack meals. From high to low donations, every dollar donated is making a difference in the community.
"The support that they get means more than we will ever know," said Cook. "And in a lot of ways I think about how hard it is to sit and focus in the course of a day and its a lot harder when you aren't eating enough. So it goes a long way to helping these kids get a good start."
The new campaign is funded by community donations, most of which have come directly from Johnston alumni. To volunteer at the Johnston Partnership or make a donation you can do so here.