The students in the middle and high school of the Abington Heights School District are making sure families that are less fortunate have enough to eat, not only during the holidays but all year long.
The food drive at the middle school is open for students in grades five through eight. Student volunteers in the seventh and eighth grades help run the program.
“Last year, there was an incentive for the homeroom that brought in the most cans,” said Rae Rudzinski, a seventh-grade English teacher who helps run the drive. “This year we decided not to have an incentive but if 5,000 cans are collected, the students will have a dress-down day. Last year, more than 6,000 cans were collected for the Dalton Food Pantry. So far, this year, we have over 2,500 cans.”
“You have to be a good student to be a volunteer,” said eighth-grader Jameson Bessoir. “We go to each homeroom every morning and collect the cans. We then put the cans in a box near the office and all the cans collected that day are put in the custodian’s office.”
“With this collection, we can feed a lot of people,” said eighth-grader Will Granci. “We take what we have for granted. Some people cannot just go to a cabinet and get what they want.”
“We get to help feed families who don’t have any,” said eighth-grader Isaac Caniner. “Collecting the canned goods makes you feel good inside. It is a luxury that we have food but others don’t.”
“Student volunteers do community service,” said Rudzinski. “They don’t get much free time during the day but the students choose to use this time for the food drive. That impresses me.”
“It is about giving something back,” said eighth-grader Rida Ashraf. “Even without the incentive, students are bringing in cans.
Eighth graders Eleanor Yale, Nandi Boini and Ellie Saunders also help.
At the high school, the food drive is run by officers of the National Honor Society and the student council.
“In the past, the high school students did not bring in many cans,” said Andrew Snyder principal. “We like to be the best and have every student participate. Every can a student brings in is donated in a name of a teacher. If the school reaches 1,000 cans, every teacher who has 50 cans donated in their name along with me will be pied by students at a pep rally.”
“Last year we did not get a lot of cans,” said junior Madelyn Skyes. “We are one of the best school districts in the area. Our school district should be one of the best giving back to the community.”
“We met with Mr. Snyder,” said Cameron Craig a senior and public relations officer for the National Honor Society. “We were thinking of incentives to encourage students to bring in cans including having dress-down days before the Thanksgiving holiday. The students were challenged to bring in 1,000 cans. We want to surpass that.”
“Usually we are more focused on what happens in school and not outside of school,” said junior Oliviah Gerhard. “People have shelves that are bare so it is important to contribute.”
“We are giving back to the community,” said freshman Ava Leach. “We are fortunate that we food to eat for dinner. We are trying to help our school to become the best possible.”
“The students are using their own pay checks and going to the store to buy the food,” said Jennifer Tarr who teaches English and Social Studies and is the National Honor Society advisor. “They are showing that they can be the best they can be.”