Return to Headlines

Princeton schools come together for community

Lowe 3rd-grader Kassidy Erb

Princeton ISD students are making sure there will be plenty to eat for families in the community who might be struggling. Through the annual campus food drives to benefit the less fortunate, donations of more than 26,000 non-perishable items were contributed through the Angel Tree program.

This was once again a coordinated effort with the local Lions Club, and volunteers have been busy this week sorting donations to prepare for next week’s distribution. Student groups from PHS have joined forces with Lions Club members and the ministerial alliance, Christ Cares 4 Princeton.

A total of 26,878 items were donated during campus-wide drives across the district during the month of November, which sets a new record and exceeds last year’s total by 2,306.

For the second consecutive year, Harper Elementary was the BIG winner with 7,444 items collected, followed by Smith Elementary with 5,416 donations and Lacy Elementary School with 5,042. With student populations factored, Harper had 12.5 items per student, followed by Lacy with 8 items per student and Smith with 7.9 items per student.

Superintendent Donald McIntyre gets assistance from the Princeton Fire Department.

Campus donation totals include:

Canup 2,264

Godwin 1,697

Harper 7,444

Lacy 5,042

Lowe 1,970

Smith 5,416

Clark 719

Southard 1,278

Lovelady 609

PHS 439

Freshmen football and soccer players work to organize boxes.

As has become tradition, Harper dubbed its drive theme the “Hunger Heroes,” and Assistant Principal Jason Brown said in years past, Batman has been a driving force to motivate students.

“After Batman was pied in the face following the Big Kahuna fundraiser, he needed to update his wardrobe,” Mr. Brown said.

But the current supply chain crisis has sidelined Batman.

“We had to rely on our strong community support for the food drive this year,” Mr. Brown said. “We’ve seen our Harper community really wanting to support those who might be struggling a little more than usual because of the pandemic. The contributions have been significant.”

In addition, the students were enthusiastic to participate.

Smith students Samantha Samboy and Azona Griffin

“The kids get really excited about the opportunity to win prizes,” Mr. Brown said. “The students are really competitive. And, their parents wanted to give back, so they got on board to help by getting their companies involved to support with donations.”

Each campus turned the food drives into a contest, offering incentives for the most donations. Smith Elementary, which collected 187 boxes full, will offer upcoming rewards to the top three classes, including a movie party and Wendy’s Frostys and Sonic drinks for the runners-up.

But Smith has an added unique incentive to give.

“Over the last couple of years, word has gotten out about the big donations made by student Kenny (Shoemaker),” Smith counselor Katie Aldridge said of the third-grader who donated more than 1,000 food items earlier in the drive. “He has really set the bar high for our campus, and other students are inspired and want to work to achieve that. That has really upped the level of competition. Teachers even know about Kenny’s efforts.”

Students at Lowe donate food for drive.

There was another factor that helped Smith’s collections.

“We implemented a decoration contest for the collection boxes,” Mrs. Aldridge said. “The students really have ownership of their homeroom boxes. And since they are right at the front of the school, they are very noticeable and serve as a reminder that we are conducting a food drive.”

This annual effort is not just about food, it’s about community, and Macy Harpole, who is an officer with the National Jr. Honor Society that spear-headed the effort at Clark, summed it up this way.

"It is important for students to be involved in the food drive for the community because it helps our community by giving food to people in need,” Macy said. “It also teaches students responsibility."

 Players prepare boxes for distribution.

About the photos:

Lowe 3rd-grader Kassidy Erb drops food into a collection box.

Lowe students, from left, kneeling, Madisyn Robinson and Samuell Holley, and standing, Sean Ware, Andrew Erb and Ayaan Sheikh contribute to the food drive.

PISD Superintendent Donald McIntyre gets assistance from the City of Princeton Fire Department to organize donations at the district’s auxiliary services building.

Princeton Panther soccer and football players sort items into boxes to prepare for distribution.

Players work in a production line of food sorting.