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Food drives underway on campuses

Jamie Askew sorts food during last year's food drive.

With Thanksgiving approaching, it’s time to not only think about filling our own plates, but to make sure less fortunate families in the community can do the same. Princeton ISD schools have kicked off the annual food drives to spark this initiative.

These collection efforts are part of the Lions Clubs’ annual Angel Tree Program that also provides toys and clothes to families in need. Food drives will conclude after Thanksgiving break to allow volunteers time to sort and organize items.

Organizers say student participation in the food drive is important because it sends a message to kids about civic responsibility and caring for the community.

"A big reason we do the food drive is to give back to the community,” said Harper Assistant Principal Jason Brown. “It’s a great way to help our community and show the kids that they can really make a difference in people’s lives and it makes an immediate impact on our area.”

Harper has adopted a “Hunger Hero” theme this year for their food drive.

“Batman has been making quite a few appearances on campus this year, so we thought it would be good to incorporate him with our contest,” Mr. Brown said. “It’s a little extra motivation because each week Batman will have recess with the class that has the highest number of donations.”

The students also realize the significance of charitable giving.

"The food drive is important because there are people in your community, whether you know them or not, who don’t have enough money to pay for food, therefore it’s hard for them to provide for their family and to make sure that everyone is healthy," Southard National Jr. Honor Society officer Abby Sadler said. "Giving back to the community isn’t only good for them, but it shows how much you care about your community and how much you are willing to help out those in need."

Food drive organizers on the campuses also understand that local residents are getting the assistance they need.

“The food drive is important because it gives food to those who need it but do not have enough money to provide for their family,” said Clark National Jr. Honor Society officer Yamileth Anchondo, who is helping coordinate the efforts on her campus. “It’s important to give back to them because it actually does help out many families in this community.”

It is important for students to understand that some of their classmates may not have enough food to eat.

"The food drive makes sure that their family has a full stomach,” said Valeria Escobedo, a Clark NJHS officer. “Helping others provide for their family and giving back to those in need warms my heart. Giving back to the community is helping others pass it forward, and then they will spread the kindness.”

Having students participate in a food drive that benefits local families is a learning experience.

“The food drive gives us a chance to talk to students about those who are less fortunate and how good it feels to help someone in need,” Lacy Elementary counselor Maitee Helms said. “We want them to know even the smallest gesture can help when someone is in need.”

Making food drives a group effort or competition encourages participation and shows students every little bit matters.

"The food drive is good because it gives us the opportunity to help the families in need," Southard NJHS officer Leah Payne said. "It shows us that in doing the small things, we can make a big impact."

It’s not just about food, it’s about community.

“Our community should hold a special place in our heart, and one of the ways to give back to it is through the food drive,” said Southard NJHS officer Kate Read. “The food drive allows us to share what we have with those less fortunate than us. By donating food to the drive we are not only feeding someone unable to provide for themselves or their family but spreading love through our community. The more love, the closer we become, and the stronger. In the end, the food drive is one of the best ways to give back to your community.”

There are big goals for this year.

“Even one can makes a difference,” said Lions Club past president Rene Mullins. “We would like to break the record set last year of 21,343 food item donations.”

Christ Cares for Princeton, which operates the local food pantry out of Faith Baptist Church, offers these recommendations for food donations based on needs in the local community:

Canned vegetables and fruit

Dry cereal

Oatmeal

Sugar

Dried rice

Dried pinto beans

Canned tomato/spaghetti sauce

Pasta

Boxed mac and cheese

Hamburger/tuna helper

Peanut butter

Cooking oil

Ketchup/mayo/mustard

Crackers

Pork ‘n beans

Soups

Canned/bottled juice

Ramen noodles

Cornbread mixes

Pudding/jello/cake mixes

High-need items this year include canned meat, soup, canned or dried potatoes, jelly, pancake mix and syrup.

Below is a recap of how to donate on each campus.

Princeton High

Student Council is organizing the food drive and has delivered boxes to 5th-period classes to begin collections. The food drive ends Nov. 18. The winning 5th-period class gets a pizza party.

Clark Middle School

The Clark Middle School chapter of National Jr. Honor Society is sponsoring a food drive until Nov. 13. There will be a box in each teacher's classroom and students will be competing to win a donut party. Students need to deliver their canned good donations to their 3rd-period teacher.

Southard Middle School

The Southard Middle School chapter of National Jr. Honor Society is sponsoring the food drive, which is underway until Nov. 13. The contest will be between the 5th-period classes. The class that brings the most items will receive a donut and juice party.

High-need items include:

Canned meat

Peanut butter

Jelly

Canned or dried potatoes

Soup

Pancake mix

Syrup

Other suggested items include:

Green beans

Corn

Carrots

Tomato products

Chili

Fruit

Beans (pinto, black, pork and beans)

Spaghetti sauces

Non-perishable milk products

Pasta meals (i.e. Spaghettios, etc.)

Cereals

Crackers

Snack/cake mixes

Corn bread mixes

Dry pastas

Dry beans

Rice

Flour

Sugar

4 packages of Ramen = 1 canned item

Godwin Elementary

Godwin is organizing the food drive through homeroom classes until Nov. 20.

Harper Elementary

Harper is hosting “Hunger Heroes” until Nov. 20.

Homeroom teachers collect any non-perishable food items each day and place them in their box outside their room each morning. Student Council will collect and tally points each day. Each day during announcements, the top five classes will be announced. The “Hunger Hero” cape will hang outside the class atop the leaderboard each day. The top three classrooms with the most points at the end of the day Nov. 20 will win:

1st place – Golden Chick party

2nd place – Donut party

3rd place – Hot chocolate party

These are the hero level items and are worth triple points on the designated days:

Nov. 5: Canned meat (spam, tuna, chicken) and Hamburger Helper

Nov. 12: Canned soups/stews/chili, saltine crackers and canned/dried potatoes

Nov. 19: Peanut butter, jelly, pancake mix and syrup

Lacy Elementary

Lacy students can take donations to their homeroom teacher until Nov. 30. Prizes will be awarded to students in the Top 3 classes that collect the most food. First place – Burger King or Popeye’s kids meal, prize from the school store and extra recess; second place – Burger King or Popeye’s kids meal and extra recess; and third place – extra recess.

Lowe Elementary

Lowe students can take donations to their homeroom teacher until Nov. 30. Prizes will be awarded to students in the Top 3 classes that collect the most food. First place – donut party; second place – popcorn party; and third place – extra recess. For more information, email bjensen@princetonisd.net.

Smith Elementary

Smith Elementary will hold its annual canned food drive until Nov. 18 to benefit the students and families of Princeton ISD. To participate, send non-perishable food items with your child. Students will need to take their food items to their homeroom teacher so they may be counted.

Bonus item competition days include:

Nov. 6 – peanut butter and jelly

Nov. 13 – pancake mix and syrup

Nov. 17 – soups

The top three classes with the highest number of items win a prize.

Canup Early Childhood Center

Canup students can take donations to their homeroom teacher until Nov. 30. Prizes will be awarded to students in the Top 3 classes that collect the most food. First place – movie in class; second place – extra snack (will be provided); and third place – extra recess.