Lincoln, 6, and his sister Harper, 4, joined their parents, Jon and Robyn Daniels, to work at the North Texas Food Bank in South Dallas on Monday afternoon. It was their first exposure to the organization's efforts to supply food through 340 Food Assistance Partners at 1,100 feeding locations.
It won't be their last.
"We have been in this community for 11 or 12 years now, and we've been involved in a handful of charities through the Rangers," Daniels said. "But my kids are at an age where we want them to get the feel of giving back and getting involved, something that would be a good experience for them.
"The food bank gives so much to people in need. It's a way to give back and something our kids can get their arms around. We're so fortunate that our kids really don't get to see or understand that not everybody is as fortunate as we are. What we want them to understand is giving back and helping others can become our family tradition, something we can do together."
Daniels grew up in New York City. His home was in Queens and his high school is in Manhattan. Robyn Daniels is from the Los Angeles area. Hunger is everywhere, but big cities like New York, Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth have many thousands in need.
"I came from a middle-class family; my dad was a small-business owner and my mom was a teacher," Daniels said. "We want to help people who work hard and are doing the best they can but are in need of a little extra help. In New York, you've got people of different means and come from different backgrounds, no matter where you live in the city.
"You see a cross-section every day. The high school [Hunter] I went to was a public school in Manhattan but drew from all five boroughs. We had pretty much every element you can see: some people who were well-off and those who were struggling."
The North Texas Food Bank was established in 1982 as a nonprofit hunger relief organization that distributes donated, purchased and prepared food through a network covering 13 counties. The food bank provides nearly 130,000 nutritious meals every day.
"It's extremely well-organized," Daniels said. "It's really impressive."
On Monday, Lincoln and Harper worked on the assembly line to help pack the meals for distribution.
One of the beneficiaries is the Food 4 Kids program, which provides backpacks full of nonperishable, kid-friendly food for them to take home on Friday afternoons. Needy children have access to free breakfast and lunch programs through their schools but not on the weekend.
The Food 4 Kids program addresses that by sending children home with food for the weekend. The program grew to 330 schools in 2012, and children in Dallas, Denton, Collin, Rockwall and Fannin counties received backpacks full of food each weekend during the school year.
Lincoln and Harper were there Monday to help prepare the meals, and the Daniels family, along with some of their friends, is planning to do more in the months and years ahead.
"It was a good experience for them," Daniels said. "We were looking for ways to get the kids involved, and we didn't want to put them in a situation they couldn't grasp. They understand these are people like you and me who have come on hard times.
"We feel strongly about getting them involved at a young age."