'Our first instinct as God-fearing people was to pray for these children. But I heard God's voice saying, 'I put you here—you're doing something.''
The rural, small-town community of Frazeysburg, Ohio, has always been big on helping one another. "I grew up in Frazeysburg," Jason Watson, a PE teacher and father-of-three, explained in a GoFundMe Heroes feature. "There's only one stoplight, one place to get groceries. It's a close-knit community where people step up and help one another." Soon after he and his wife Anne moved back to Frazeysburg with their three kids, Lily, Skye, and Pax, Watson realized that many kids in the community didn't have regular access to quality food and relied on school lunches to get by. Following the community's longstanding tradition of helping those in need, in 2016, the couple started AIM Outreach, an extracurricular program for kids that included free lunches.
"Our first instinct as God-fearing people was to pray for these children," shared Anne, who is a school librarian. "But I heard God's voice saying, 'Oh no, I put you here—you're doing something.'" However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. in 2020, the in-person outreach program had to be put on hold indefinitely. But the Watsons weren't ready to give up. They contacted a local ice cream truck owner to ask if he'd be willing to drive the family around to hand out free treats. "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," Watson told PEOPLE.
The family purchased the brightly colored turquoise truck in October 2020 and has been delivering hot home-cooked lunches and icy treats to kids in need ever since. "When the kids hear the music, they come out running," said Watson. "We have hot lunches and ice cream—we want to bless them with good stuff." All the meals are cooked from scratch by the family themselves. They post the dates and times of their meal delivery on their Facebook page. About 70 meals are served by the Watsons every week in the summertime. They estimate that they've served about 1,500 lunches from the truck to date.
"We love cooking," Watson explained. "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." Unfortunately, as they geared up for another summer delivering food in the ice cream truck, the family discovered that their beloved truck needed extensive mechanical work. The couple launched a GoFundMe in June this year to buy a new transmission and a new engine and were pleasantly surprised by the response they received. They raised more than $12,000 of their $15,000 goal.
"We've been blown away by the outpouring of donations," said 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." Kelsea Little, head of brand storytelling at GoFundMe, hopes the Watson family will inspire other people to spread kindness in their communities. "We believe at GoFundMe that help is kindness in action, and the Watsons embody that to a T," she said. "They are physically and figuratively spreading joy out in their community every day. 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."