GoFundMe Heroes - Meet the Watsons The Watson family in their revamped ice cream truck
After realizing students at his elementary school were going hungry at home, PE teacher Jason Watson got a wave of inspiration — and a cool set of wheels.
Jason and his wife, school librarian Anne, bought a used ice cream truck, and for the past two summers, the couple, both 39, have delivered hot home-cooked lunches and icy treats to kids in need in their 1,300-person town of Frazeysburg, Ohio, with the help of their own kids (from left) Pax, 12, Skye, 11, and Lily, 14 (plus dog Bowie).
"As soon as they hear the music, they come running," Jason tells PEOPLE.
"To see their faces, there's nothing better," adds Anne.
It all started back in 2016 when the pair, both youth ministers at Crossroads Christian Church, started AIM Outreach, an extracurricular program for kids that included free lunches.
When the pandemic hit, their in-person outreach was paused indefinitely. So one day Jason asked a local ice cream truck owner if he'd drive the family around to hand out free treats. What he got was something more.
"He just fell so in love with our community and what we were doing that he offered one of his ice cream trucks to us," Jason says. The couple purchased the truck in October 2020 and have been hard at work since.
The family cooks all the meals themselves from scratch, posting on Facebook the dates and times they will be delivering. They serve about 70 meals a week in the summertime; to date, they estimate they've served about 1,500 lunches from the truck.
"We love cooking," Jason says. "Instead of just giving out just peanut butter and jelly, we try to actually cook a really good meal. Like grill hamburgers or chicken sandwiches, things that they just wouldn't normally be able to get, to spoil them, treat them a little bit."
The couple launched a GoFundMe in June, 2022 when the truck needed both a new transmission and a new engine. They raised more than $10,000.
"We've been blown away by the outpouring of donations," says Anne. "And we've been inspired to do more. Our dream is to possibly open a free café where we invite people to sit and have a hot dinner. Then we can sit down and share life together. That's kind of our vision going ahead."
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In August, the family was named one of GoFundMe's Heroes.
"We believe at GoFundMe that help is kindness in action, and the Watsons embody that to a T," says Kelsea Little, head of brand storytelling at GoFundMe. "They are physically and figuratively spreading joy out in their community every day."
Little hopes the Watson family will inspire other people to spread kindness in their communities.
"They might not have an ice cream truck to go feed everyone with, but there's maybe some small things they could do for their neighbors or to make the world a better place or even just to do something kind for someone else," she says.
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