by Lisa Tome
When Leon Alexander, Sr. was assigned to cafeteria duty at Perryville Middle School, uneaten food from students was shared or went to the homeless.
Alexander, 57, the school's guidance counselor, who died February 13, 2016, also started a weekend feeding program so students who may not have a good food supply at home, would still have meals they could make themselves.
Currently, 19 students receive a package of food every weekend. They receive the food discreetly so no one else knows.
The school hasn't forgotten his legacy. Mr. A's Food Pantry now has its own area at the school. A plaque on the door shows a photo of Alexander.
Guidance counselor Lori Roland worked with Alexander on the pantry. "Mr. A's Pantry existed way before we ever decided to name it that officially. Mr. Alexander was such a kind soul that he always had an office drawer full of crackers, breakfast bars, and other goodies just in case a student was ever in need. Many times, he would open his own wallet to buy a lunch for a student that would have sat silently hungry in the cafeteria," said Roland. "He loved the idea of the Helping Hands food program and would faithfully stuff bags each week. We plan to continue his initiative as best we can and seeing his picture on the door is so heartwarming."
Shawn Johnson is principal at Perryville Middle. He's still deeply impacted by the death. "It's tough for all of us. He (Alexander) always went above and beyond. He cared about kids and he saw every child's potential," said Johnson. "We realize there is more to school than the six hours children are here. We know how challenging the world can be and try to be helpful in ways beyond the instruction."
Johnson said that school board member Jim Fazzino suggested that the plaque be installed in Alexander's honor. "We now have a visual reminder. The river runs deep and his legacy lives on. It's (the pantry) in our main hallway and is a reminder of him," added Johnson.