Toyyon Swafford, an eighth-grade student at Pixley middle school, is known as a hard worker a caring friend and a dedicated student.

“He is one of the most hard-working young men I have had the pleasure of teaching.” says eighth-grade teacher Deborah McCaskill.

His work and action speak volumes in the classroom but it’s what he does outside of school that really stands out. When learning was done all online during the pandemic, Toyyon realized he could help people who are hungry in his community by giving away his boxed lunches that were delivered by the school while everyone was learning at home.

“The school would come by and give us boxes of food. Since we didn’t finish all of them. We would normally go around Tulare or Pixley and any food we didn’t finish we would give it to others.” says Swafford. 

Swafford says it’s difficult to know that there are many people in the community and around the world who go hungry.

“Knowing that people are starving right now, fighting for their life. Knowing if I continued my life not even acknowledging that, I would feel very bad knowing that I could have done something to help this,” says Swafford.

His passion for helping the community and realizing there is a big need helped develop his dream of one day becoming a chef. His teacher says it’s a great fit.

McCaskill says, “It is completely about being able to use a talent that he will develop over the course of his training to serve others. And to make sure that America is fed. Even in those places where there is a deficit or a great need, that is where he wants to be. He wants to help feed the people who are most in need.” 

His classmates agree. Noemi Ceja says, “He is always willing to help anyone. I think whenever he can he volunteers for anything.” 

Swafford is thankful to be recognized and reminding us that “your character matters.”  “It makes me feel really good knowing that they think of me like this,” says Swafford.