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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City area man’s COVID-19 mission must continue, in spite of his death at the hands of the virus.

Rafael Hines founded Meals for Kids and Success Outreach Link KC, a mission touching tens of thousands of families, serving more than 500,000 meals just last summer. He stepped up his mission once COVID-19 began to spread. His team said the work must continue but they won’t forget who Hines was.

“He was a giver. He always wanted to make sure that those around him are supported, with whatever they need,” his brother Daniel Felder said.

More than three decades of serving food, school supplies, tutoring, parental support, guidance, simply a way forward. He did this all out of his own pocket after being paralyzed from an accident.

“This earth is now void of somebody who was a picture painter. He allowed the students to see what was possible,” Felder said.

At the heart of it all, he was focused on the youth, doing everything in his power to show them they had potential, even when it may not feel like it.

“Mr. Hines was more like a father figure in my life. He’s been knowing me since I was very young, and I’ve been working with him in the food program for six or seven years,” said Clarence Johnson IV, a youth worker for Meals for Kids.

Hines worked with employment partners throughout KC to give jobs to those in need, aligning with the Urban Youth League to pass out opportunities for those who needed it.

“Give them space and opportunity to have something else to do other than being out in the streets or being around the wrong crowd,” Johnson said.

On Dec. 31, Hines died after a short battle with COVID-19, leaving behind his wife and 19-year-old daughter.

“It brings some confusion, that it would be the COVID, the very thing that he was fighting against the very virus that was causing the barriers for a lot of those in this community will be the thing that would overcome him eventually,” Felder said.

But his team is determined to ensure the work continues because for them the mission is that important.

“For people to come together and help finish the vision that he had, because this is only the beginning,” Johnson said.

If you would like to help in his vision of continuing to feed kids across Kansas City and the multifaceted programs he ran, his family has set up a GoFundMe page.