Students collect, sort 12,000 items for Starside’s annual food drive
When Starside Elementary School students finished packing up items collected in their school's food drive last Thursday, school counselor Paula Henderson was amazed.
"Wow. Oh my gosh," she said to about 50 students in Starside's Community Service Club.
Henderson's response was justified as the school's food drive collected about 12,000 items -- nearly twice as much as the year before.
The drive lasted about a week and a half and encouraged students to donate non-perishable items for the chance to win a nacho party for the class that donated the most.
Classes competed against each other, announcements were made over the intercom and a skit was performed, Henderson said.
Jodi Hitchcock, director of the De Soto Multi-Service Center, came to the school and told students about the center's need for food in order to feed hungry families in the area, Henderson said.
"Jodi wanted a bunch of food because she was running out," fourth-grader Makayla Ray said. "I feel good about it because we got a bunch of food. People need some food to eat so they don't run out."
The official count had Mandy Adcock's fifth-grade class in the lead with 1,536 items. Her class had brought in so many items the tally went off of the chart and started to loop around it. In second place was Elyzabeth Navarre's third-grade class with 663 items. Both classes won a nacho party.
Henderson said she especially was surprised at the amount of items donated because the school didn't set a goal to reach.
"It was kind of a shot in the dark," she said.
Twice as many items means twice the amount that need sorted and boxed based on their food type.
Henderson had only planned for students to stay after school Thursday for about an hour to sort them, but the items had invaded the band's classroom space on the stage where they were stored, so the band chipped in and packed up many of the items.
"We had to tell them to stop so there would be things to do for the kids after school," Henderson said with a chuckle.
At about 4 p.m., community service club members busily packed the remaining items into boxes and placed them against the wall in the cafeteria.
Once they were finished and the children had gone home, Henderson looked over to the stacks of boxes lined along the wall.
"Last year, it was only to here," she said pointing to about the middle of the wall's length. "Now it's full."
De Soto High School students enrolled in a community service class went Friday to Starside to pick up the boxes and deliver them to the Multi-Service Center where Hitchcock greeted them with wide eyes and a smile.
"We will go through it," she said. "I'm hoping we can get a couple of months out of it and get into January and February."
This year, 154 households, totaling 572 people, requested Thanksgiving dinners, Hitchcock said.
Third-grader Mackenzie Smith said the Starside students put a lot of effort in the food drive so they could help others.
"We were working hard and also we had lots of teamwork," she said.
Henderson said the food drive was a good example of the children's desire to help others in need.
"These kids especially at this age just love to help and this is a great way that we can have them help as they are helping their community," Henderson said.