CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Kiernan Cruger’s first introduction to the realities of hunger came when he was in 8th grade. That’s when
he volunteered at the Coastal Bend Food Bank.
“Just seeing all the people there really broke my heart,” recalls Cruger, now 17 at Ray High School.
Kiernan immediately understood the importance of giving back to those less fortunate.
This lesson was inspired by her mother Sallie Weathers Ohmstede. She actually involved Kiernan in the food bank in the first place.
“For me, it was always about showing my kids how to do things and not necessarily telling them, because I felt that had more impact,” Sallie said.
And boy, did that impact Kiernan’s early perspective on his young life.
Kiernan, a star baseball pitcher, suffered an arm injury that took him out of the game.
So he put down the baseball and got a power saw.
Kiernan heard of a declining Eagle Scout food drive project, so he volunteered to take over and manage the project. It started with the construction of new community pantries.
Soon he and his buddies had built two new pantries.
“That passion for helping others wasn’t necessarily because I had to, but it was more because I wanted to,” Kiernan said.
“I wanted to give back to people who maybe weren’t as lucky as me.”
CC Little Pantry was born.
Sallie recalled the moment she knew her love for community service had been passed on to her son.
In 2016, her family gave her a giant “Why We Love You” poster for Mother’s Day.
Kiernan wrote this:
“I love that you care about people you don’t even know.”
“And that’s when I was kind of like…it works,” Sallie said. He sees it. He gets it, and it’s going to be part of his fabric.”
These words were woven into Kiernan’s heart which he now puts into action.
His uncle Walter, is a Vietnam War veteran and retired lawyer,
Walter’s service inspired Kiernan to build a special pantry for veterans struggling to get their next meal.
Kiernan recently delivered it to the lobby of the Nueces County Veterans Services Office
Vietnam War veteran Tony Garza is a pantry recipient. As soon as he heard about the project, he left this message for KIernan:
“Kiernan, I want to congratulate you and then you for what you are doing for veterans who really need help. You have my blessings and my prayers,” Garza said.
You can follow CC Little Pantry on social media.
Facebook: CC Free Small Pantry
You can also email him at cclittle email@example.com
More Veterans In Focus stories are available here, along with resources for local veterans.
Contact Veterans In Focus reporter Pat Simon at firstname.lastname@example.org