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'I'm completely shocked' | WUSA9's Impact team surprises an unsung hero of the pandemic

WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. logo WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. 11/28/2020 Erin Spaht, Lesli Foster, James Hash, Darlene Dyer
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Mr. Daniel Garcia is the principal at Ridgeview Middle School in Gaithersburg, Md.

At the height of the pandemic earlier this year, his focus was on making his students had nourishment for their brains and their bellies.

When WUSA9's Impact Team learned that Mr. Garcia had used his own resources to make sure no child went hungry, we knew we had to step in.

So the Impact team surprised him at school one day.

Principal Daniel Garcia said, "I'm completely shocked. So if you guys were trying to surprise me, congratulations."

Garcia sees himself in the children he serves.

"I am an immigrant from Honduras. I came here when I was 12 years old, I did not speak English. I have never forgotten the 12 year old Daniel that first came to this country," he said.

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Garcia said, “I knew that once the pandemic caused the shutdown of the economy, that a lot of kids were going to experience hunger because parents were going to lose jobs. And I thought, if a family called us that they were hungry today, they couldn't wait two or three days to get their next meal. I have a car. I have time. And so we decided that we were going to respond to them almost immediately."

a person posing for the camera © Provided by WUSA-TV Washington, D.C.

Christopher Sargent is the store manager of Wegmans Germantown store. When he heard about Mr. Garcia's mission of love for all of his children he decided to surprise him with some items to stop that new food pantry.

a car parked on the side of a vehicle © Provided by WUSA-TV Washington, D.C.

Sargent said to Garcia, "We would like to continue for support for your school's pantry. And we would like you to be able to continue to keep it full as long as possible. So we would like to present you with another $1000 dollar gift card. You may use this for anything that you think would benefit that pantry the most."

a man standing in front of a store © Provided by WUSA-TV Washington, D.C.

Garcia was at a loss for words and said, "I'm about to cry. Thank you so much as it's all for the students that Ridgeview your principal is thinking of you, your teachers are thinking of you. We miss you and we hope to see you back again."

The school is still figuring out how they’ll get this food to students and their families in need.

"But if we can drive it to their homes, or if we can invite them to the front of the school will do something but it'll be well thought out special treat," Garcia added.

He said, "Whenever we deliver food to a family. I think about the student opening up the bag and seeing some cookies and the smile that must come to their face. And that's what keeps me going."

The Ridgefield Middle School's Food Pantry is supported by the PTSA. If you would like to find out more on how you can support their efforts, click here

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