CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Kiernan Cruger's first introduction to the realities of hunger happened when he was in the 8th grade. That's when
he volunteered at the Coastal Bend Food Bank.
"Just seeing all the people there, it really broke my heart," recalled Cruger, now a 17-year-old Ray High School senior.
Kiernan learned immediately the importance of giving back to those less fortunate.
That lesson was inspired by his mother Sallie Weathers Ohmstede. She actually got Kiernan involved in the food bank in the first place.
"For me it was always showing my children how to do stuff and not necessarily telling them, because I felt it has more of an impact," said Sallie.
And boy, did it impact Kiernan's early perspective on his young life.
Kiernan, a star baseball pitcher, suffered from an arm injury that took him out of the game.
So, he put down the baseball, and picked up a power saw.
Kiernan heard about a dwindling Eagle Scout food collection project, so he volunteered to take over and manage the project. That started with building new community food pantries.
Soon, he and his buddies built two new pantries.
"This passion to help others wasn't necessarily like because I had to, but it was more so because I wanted to," said Kiernan.
"I wanted to give back to people to maybe weren't as fortunate as I was."
CC Little Pantry was born.
Sallie recalled the moment that she knew that her love for community service was passed on to her son.
In 2016, her family gave her a giant "Why we love you" Mother's Day poster card.
Kiernan wrote this:
"I love that you care for people you don't even know."
"And that's when I was kind of like … it's working," said Sallie. He's seeing it. He's getting it, and it's gonna be part of his fabric."
Those words were woven into Kiernan's heart that he now puts into action.
His uncle Walter, is a Vietnam war veteran and retired attorney,
Walter's service inspired Kiernan to build a special pantry for veterans who have a hard time getting their next meal.
Kiernan recently delivered it to lobby of the Nueces County Veteran's Service Office
Vietnam war veteran Tony Garza is a food 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 out there that really need the assistance. You have my blessings and my prayers," said Garza.
You can keep track of the CC Little Pantry on social media.
Contact Veterans In Focus reporter Pat Simon at firstname.lastname@example.org