local hero makes an appearance on television | News

Local legend Willa Johnson of Soul Kitchen and Feeding Kids Right recently had an exciting experience being honored on The Kelly Clarkson Show as a real Santa Claus.

The Clarkson producers heard about Johnson and asked Texas Country Reporter Kelly Phillips to write a letter telling them about his ministry.

“They wanted to hear my story,” said Johnson, founder of Feeding Kids Right. “I never expected anything from it other than some exposure.”

Johnson walked away with a total of $ 10,000 in donations for her Food Department, which spends Thanksgiving, Christmas and summers door-to-door in poor areas, feeding school-aged children.

“That day was very emotional for me,” Johnson said. “People were reaching out to me and thanking me for what I was doing and praying for me. So many people reached out to me and said to ‘Carry on’ and ‘God has you. “You just don’t know the feeling I have.”

At a time when Johnson says it seems like people don’t care, you see how many people are doing it, and there are a lot of them.

During the holidays, Johnson takes his food truck around Athens and distributes hot meals on school days, making sure every child has a quality hot meal.

As a child of poverty herself, she said she remembered being given a moldy bologna sandwich and didn’t have one for her babies in Athens.

The idea that a child’s only hot meal could be offered to her at school was hard to accept, and she thought to herself, “What do they eat when they’re not at school?”

The idea sent Johnson into the Passion Project in 2010.

One of the hardest parts of his job is getting out on a road with 15 kids and only four plates are left. These expressions prompt her to get up at 3 or 4 a.m. and drive an hour and a half to Athens from Fort. Worth every day during the break. Donations like Clarkson’s allow her to help more children.

She doesn’t stop with the food though. During the Christmas holidays, she will be distributing baskets with the necessary hygiene items and even organized a toy and scooter drive to give them a little something when possible.

Willa Johnson’s incredible heart is only eclipsed by her strength, endurance and determination to help families in need.

She gave birth this summer while undergoing chemotherapy treatments for colon cancer diagnosed in early 2021. She was declared free and unharmed in September 2021, which she attributes to the Lord.

“I got a second chance,” Johnson said. “I want to reach out to other small towns around Athens to see if volunteers in their towns are ready to collect donations and collect food from my home to deliver to their own local children in need. I am ready to spread the love, but I need help. “

Johnson says that even though she has been prescribed rest after the holidays, she will continue to feed the children “until God tells me otherwise.”

If you would like to help Mrs. Willa Feed Kids Right, you can send a donation to Feeding Kids Right, PO Box 25183, Ft. Worth, TX 76124.

On the Net:

Check out a previous story on Willa at https://www.athensreview.com/news/soul-food-and-bare-feet/article_5cf57bf4-991d-11e9-a31d-d370d7b0798e.html

Karl M. Bailey