The spirit of the elderly community in Waxahachie was filled with enthusiasm as local school mascots delivered hot meals and happy faces Thursday morning with Meals on Wheels of Johnson and Ellis Counties.

It was the first time for some of the high school students to experience Meals on Wheels, but for most, they had some experience. And, the pouring rain did not stop them.

Billy Gibbins represented Maypearl High School as Paw the Panther. This was the sophomore’s first year to deliver Meals on Wheels. He looked forward to “just the smiles of the people who we are delivering to.”

Madison Zandt — commonly known as Maddie the Indian — relayed she initiated the mascot-led delivery team three years ago as a way to bring Ellis County mascots together. She used to participate with the nonprofit years ago with her parents.

The senior said she was looking forward to “the smiles on their faces and the pure shock that there’s an animal at my door or an Indian. That’s what I’m excited for.”

The Ennis Mascot — Sampson the Lion — was present at the JECMOW headquarters. Under the suit was sophomore Parker Carver. She disclosed this was not her first year to deliver Meals on Wheels — it was her second year as a mascot to participate.

This year she was expecting, “Not to trip as much. These feet are big,” said Carver as she pointed at her giant, stuffed lions paws. This is important to her because, “ I love making people smile — like it’s my favorite thing.”

Ferris senior, Alyssa Steinbeck, said this was her second year to participate as a mascot. After her first year, she decided to volunteer again during Thanksgiving break.

“I think it’s important because you see all the people who can’t go out and get it themselves. And, we are helping, and people smile when they are helped. And it’s a great feeling knowing you’re helping someone out there that needs it,” Steinbeck assured.

Braylee Moore, a freshman at Midlothian Heritage High School, rocked the Jasper the Jaguar costume. This was the second time for the freshmen to deliver Meals on Wheels.

“I just like seeing the people smile and they don’t get to get out much, so it’s nice for them to see us,” Moore expressed.

Kaleb McAlister is also a Heritage freshman who was dressed as Jagger the Jaguar. This was his first time as a mascot to deliver the needed meals. The service is important to him because “ I like to do stuff for other people and to be able to do that because otherwise, people expect stuff from you. It’s awesome being able to do stuff for others,” McAlister said.

McKenna Stracener is an eighth grader from Howard Junior High School and proudly represented Boston the Brave during her first time to volunteer with Meals on Wheels. “I’m expecting people to be happy to see us and put a smile on other people’s faces that can’t get out,” Stracener shared.

Lisa Deese, community relations for MOWJEC, pointed at the picture frame in the lobby of the first year the mascots participated as a group for Meals on Wheels. Deese relayed it was more on a whim three years ago and is now a tradition.

“We had such positive feedback from our volunteers and clients,” Deese relayed. She explained that the clients’ reactions are of excitement. “Most of our clients are born and raised here and are big Waxahachie or Red Oak fans or whatever community, so they love it. And it’s a special treat having a new visitor come by,” Deese expressed.

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450