USD 232 students’ food drives make the difference
It’s that time of year to be thankful, and students in the De Soto school district have worked hard to give back to the community.
Last week, students at Mize, Riverview and Starside elementary schools, as well as Lexington Trials Middle School made donations to area food pantries, just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.
For the third year in a row, fourth-grade students at Mize conducted a Charity Feast for staff and parents.
On Thursday, the 112 fourth-graders brought in food to furnish the feast. Parents and staff paid $3 to enjoy turkey, ham, stuffing, fruits, vegetables and pies.
By Friday, the class had raised $512, after feeding about 275 people, said Holly Schreiber, fourth-grade teacher.
Schrieber said teachers would purchase nonperishable food items for the Valley View United Methodist Church’s food pantry.
“We’ve started buying through Costco,” she said. “We’ve bought several cases. We did a lot of mac n’ cheese for kids, canned goods and Thanksgiving food. We also bought basics like flour, sugar and pasta.”
Maddy Kennedy and her mother, Lynne Cameron-Kennedy, enjoyed Thursday’s feast.
“We raised a lot of money,” Maddy said. “We had mashed potatoes, turkey, grapes, stuffing, green beans, rolls, corn and pie.”
Cameron-Kennedy said the feast was a positive way for the students and families to help the community.
“We always try to raise kids to help and give back,” she said. “It’s a great experience for the kids. Everyone is anxious about the holidays this year, it’s good to know we can share a meal.”
Schrieber said the feast was a way for students to learn to give without necessarily receiving something in return.
“We really hope they (the students) get the experience of giving without getting anything back,” she said “And to work with their parents as well. We want them to understand that it can be a family project.”
Jodi Hitchcock, director of the De Soto Multi-Service Center, received more than 4,000 items to the food pantry Friday afternoon.
De Soto High School students made the delivery from Starside Elementary’s food drive.
Students at Starside brought in 4,440 food items for the food pantry, Hitchcock said.
“We were struggling to keep food on the shelves,” Hitchcock said. “It’s always a struggle but in the last year all through the metro and countrywide we’ve seen dramatic increases in the number of first-time uses getting food assistance. This is a tremendous boost.”
Lexington Trails Middle School students also played host last week to a food drive.
Gayle Moriarty, vocal music teacher at LTMS, said the goal was for each student to bring at least one food item for the drive.
Hitchcock said the recent donations from Starside, LTMS and Riverview’s PTA could last two to three months.
“We see approximately 50 to 60 families a month,” she said.
Although the De Soto food pantry is located in downtown De Soto, it supplies food for families throughout De Soto USD 232. So families as far away as Mill Valley or Clear Creek Middle School receive assistance from the pantry.
“They need to reside in the De Soto School District and they need to make an appointment,” Hitchcock said of those seeking assistance.
On Thursday afternoon, students at Starside sorted the items before high school students transported the goods Friday.
Cameron and Clayton Pflaum were on hand to help their fellow students.
Cameron, a fifth grader, said it was a great think to do with friends and to help others.
Clayton, a sixth-grader, said it’s always important to help out people.
“This is my favorite thing to do, to come and help out,” he said. “It’s good to help people and the food pantry is running low.”
Makala McAvoy, fourth-grader, said it felt good to help others.
“It’s for poor people that can’t afford food,” she said. “We help because some people are starving and we want them to survive. I think people are happy we are helping, because they probably want to help others too.”
Fouth-grader Lexi Meneely and fifth-grader Katey Hinds found enjoyment in helping others.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Lexi said. “We help because we want to make a better world and give to those that need help.”
Katey said she felt like she was helping to save a life by donating to the food drive.
“There are people on the streets worrying about what to feed their families,” she said. “Every little bit helps.”
Hitchcock said almost all the schools in the district donate to the food pantry.
The Johnson County Park and Recreation after-school programs in the district’s elementary schools recently donated food. Those drives brought in nearly 100 to 150 bags of food, she said.
“Right now we are just trying to get the necessary items for people that are in a pinch,” Hitchcock said. “Many families are struggling to even get those everyday necessities like toothpaste and personal hygiene products, those products are very expensive.
“People are not getting back employed fast. People that lost jobs seem to be off without work in longer periods of time than what we’ve seen in the past. Unemployment benefits are great but they don’t meet someone’s monthly budget needs. This is really neighbor helping neighbor. What you invest in your community you get back in your community.”