COLUMBIA COUNTY Ga. (WJBF)- A local church is giving back to area students.

“You know it’s awfully hard to learn when you’re hungry,” Senior pastor at Abilene Baptist Church Dr. Brad Whitt said. 

That’s why Abilene Baptist Church is donating money to help clear student lunch debts in Columbia County Schools. 

The church’s senior pastor says making sure kid’s stomachs are full is one way to ensure they keep their focus in the classroom.

“Can you imagine being a child, getting up and getting barely anything that morning, counting on eating something at lunch, and then having to wonder about what you’re gonna get? So, this is one of our ways we’re making sure we’re loving on our families and loving on our kids. We’ve said for a decade, Abilene loves Augusta, and Abilene loves kids,” Pastor Whitt said.  

The church is giving $10,000 to Columbia County School District to help pay off those outstanding lunch fees.

“It basically, first of all, sparks an awareness that there is a need and that individuals in the community have the opportunity to assist. It’s also important because it, basically, demonstrates the partnership that does already exist with the community here in Columbia County,” Columbia County School District Nutrition Director Dr. Dana Bing said.

School leaders hope this donation kick starts more generosity from the community.

“This is a monthly situation. It’s ongoing, so obviously as the school year progresses and each month progresses, there can be more debts that come forward. But like I said before, I’m hoping that this is the start of something incredibly special so that we could continue to apply the wonderful favor from the community,” Dr. Bing said.

A generous gift that ensures the community is helping the school system ensure the future of Columbia County remains bright.

“You have to have a foundation. So, what this proves to me is that this school system has a foundation to where the community is a very central part and we’re all under the same umbrella doing anything and everything we can to promote student success,” Dr. Bing said.

Though the donation has resolved the current debt, the school district is always accepting new support and partnerships if you’d like to be a part.