HARLINGEN — All throughout the week, First United Methodist Church will visit schools in Harlingen to surprise teachers.

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week and to celebrate it seven elementary schools and one middle school were given special treats for teachers.

These schools are part of the Backpacks for Hunger ministry, a program created by the church where students in need receive a backpack full of food to last them a weekend.

Pastor J.J. Wicke said school counselors help them coordinate the backpack program and helped surprise teachers this week as well.

The church provided teachers with breakfast tacos, orange juice, pastries and yogurts.

Wicke visited Zavala Elementary on Wednesday morning and said this tradition has been ongoing for at least five years.

“Usually, we would have more church members setting up, and we would have casseroles. But with COVID, we decided to go this route,” Wicke said.

“We wanted to do something and not anything so we tried to figure out a way we could continue to do things during this time,” he said.

Ronald Arnold, fourth grade teacher at Zavala Elementary, said he felt appreciative of the church’s gesture.

“We feel like with COVID-19 it has been harder to reach out and teach them like we would like to,” he said about teaching during the pandemic.

However, he said he felt thankful to receive appreciation from the elementary staff throughout the week as well as the church.

“We work hard all year and to get some appreciation from the church really shows how the community cares,” he said.