Will Lourcey says getting the star treatment on TV is fun and exciting. But the 13-year-old go-getter, who will be profiled in an episode of Nickelodeon’s The HALO Effect, isn’t in it seeking any kind of personal fame or glory.
Lourcey heads up a nonprofit organization called FROGs, which was created to combat childhood hunger in Tarrant County.
The Fort Worth teen was eager to be part of the show because the exposure might help raise awareness to his cause, might help bolster donations and might help feed more people in need.
Getting all this notoriety is great, but I see it as an opportunity to shine a spotlight on something that matters even more.
Never miss a local story.
“That’s why I do it,” Lourcey says. “Getting all this notoriety is great, but I see it as an opportunity to shine a spotlight on something that matters even more.”
The episode of The HALO Effect, a monthly series that highlights community-service-minded teens who “help and lead others,” premieres at 7:30 p.m. Friday on Nickelodeon.
The network sent a New York production crew to Fort Worth for a week in February to chronicle the good work that Lourcey and his friends do.
In the past six years, FROGs (which stands for Friends Reaching Our Goals) has provided more than 200,000 healthy meals for kids through the Tarrant Area Food Bank and FROGs Dinner Club.
The group also has packed more than 80,000 backpacks with food and helped serve more than 10,000 families through the Mobile Food Pantry.
Kelsey Patterson, wife of TCU’s football coach, matched a $1,000 gift in the name of the Gary Patterson Foundation when FROGs started in 2010.
“We haven’t stopped counting the number of meals served yet,” Lourcey says. “But the smiles of the people we have served, that’s invaluable and can’t be counted.”
To further his cause, The HALO Effect donated $10,000 to FROGs. It’s money that will help the group feed a lot of people.
In six years, Lourcey’s operation has far exceeded initial expectations.
“When FROGs started, we had a goal of collecting 1,000 cans of food for the local food bank,” Lourcey says. “Well, we breezed past that goal very easily by the end of the summer.
“That’s when we realized that this could be more than just a one-summer thing. It could be an entire nonprofit and we could reach out to other kids and to adults across the state and around the world and encourage them to make a positive impact on the community.
200,000 The number of healthy meals FROGs has provided for kids through the Tarrant Area Food Bank and FROGs Dinner Club
“I like to say, ‘Be a doer, not a watcher. Anyone can change the world.’”
Lourcey, who will start eighth grade this fall at Trinity Valley School in Fort Worth, vividly remembers the incident that started him on this journey.
“When I was 7, I was on a Little League baseball team,” says Lourcey, who attended Tanglewood Elementary School. “One night, after a game, I was riding home in the back of my parents’ car and we stopped at an intersection and I saw a man on a street corner. He was holding a sign that said, ‘Need a Meal.’
“At first, I was confused why somebody would be standing on the corner holding a sign, so I asked my parents. They explained that some people in my community don’t have enough food to eat. This shocked me. It’s a social injustice that people wouldn’t be able to eat healthy and nutritious food.
“So I scheduled a meeting at the food bank and asked about their programs and asked why hunger and especially childhood hunger was such a big problem, not just around the world but in the U.S.
“After that, I gathered up some of my friends at school and from my baseball team and together we started FROGs.”
I like to tell kids, if they want to change the world, all it takes is to see a need, make a plan, gather friends and make it happen.
And yes, in case you’re wondering, Lourcey did name his organization FROGs because Fort Worth is the home of the TCU Horned Frogs.
“But here’s the funny part,” he says. “My parents are Aggies.
“Still, most if not all of my friends were giant TCU fans. So I thought if I named it something close to TCU, it might drum up more publicity and more people locally would be enthusiastic about getting involved. And it worked.”
Lourcey aspires to become a foreign service officer for the U.S. State Department when he’s older. But he’s committed to continuing the work that FROGs does for many years to come.
“I’m going to hold on to it and reach out to as many people as long as I can,” he says. “FROGs is such a fun project and it’s great to be part of it.
“I like to tell kids, if they want to change the world, all it takes is to see a need, make a plan, gather friends and make it happen. We all have the ability to make a big difference.”
The HALO Effect
- 7:30 p.m. Friday
- For information about FROGs or to make donations, go to www.willlourceyfrogs.com.