When Brenda Gionnoulis, the administrative assistant for High Road School of Mount Prospect, was asked for gift ideas to celebrate her upcoming birthday, she had one request: For other staff members to join her for a volunteer opportunity at Feed My Starving Children (FMSC), a nonprofit organization that works with partners to distribute hand-packed meals in schools, orphanages, clinics, and feeding programs around the world.

On November 19th, Brenda’s birthday wish came true when 12 of her colleagues volunteered with her to make and pack meals—24,624 meals, to be exact, or enough to feed 67 children for an entire year! “Ms. Brenda is the heartbeat of our school,” said Dr. Chip Hickman, school. So many of Brenda’s coworkers wanted to join her that “FMSC did not have enough space that day to accommodate all our staff that wanted to contribute,” Dr. Hickman continued. “This speaks to the power of giving and paying it forward.” A big shoutout to Brenda and all the staff who volunteered their time and embodied SESI’s Season of Giving!