Genesis Church of Muskogee has paid the outstanding lunch balances for every child, kindergarten to high school senior, at Hilldale Schools, said Superintendent Erik Puckett.

"The church just reached out to us and asked if they could cover the cost of any outstanding lunch debt, and of course we said yes," Puckett said. "It helps the school as far as financially paying those burdens, but I think the more important issue is that it helps the families."

Genesis' assistance paid up $1,135 in the to-date lunch debt accrued by the school's students. That should free up some funds and give breathing room to families following a traditionally tight time of the year, Puckett said.

"It’s quite an outreach for the church," Puckett said. "After Christmas and the holidays, everybody's budgets are tight, so this frees up some money for families who need it."

Genesis Church Pastor Frank Miller said his group discussed ways they could help their surrounding community before deciding on aiding Hilldale.

"We are just kind of down the road from Hilldale Schools, so we kind of consider them our school and we just love them," Miller said. "We were talking about ways we could bless or impact our community and someone had this idea and we went with it."

Miller said it felt "good" to help kids as they return to school from holiday break, ensuring there was no lunch debt hanging over their heads. 

"We wanted to bless a few people to help them out a little financially and help some kids come back to school and be able to eat," Miller said. "We try to bless people in a lot of different ways."

Puckett said efforts like that of Genesis Church and other community support were important to keeping school programs working correctly.

"Without programs like that our schools don’t function the same, so what they did is a great thing," Puckett said.

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