SOUTH DAYTON - Students in the Pine Valley school district are helping those in need this holiday season by collecting food and gifts.
Students participated in the We Can if You Can food drive recently throughout the district. The food drive was held in both the elementary school and junior/senior high school and lasted a month. Between the two buildings, a total of 1,934 donations were given to the Cherry Creek and South Dayton food pantries. The project was the idea of Community Service Coordinator and Guidance Secretary Stacy Chase.
"It was kind of a 'brain child' of mine," she said. "I felt that the school needed to do something as a group."
Students and members of the Pine Valley Teachers’ Association Lap Team worked together to donate over 1,900 items of food and reusable bags to the Cherry Creek and South Dayton food pantries.
The Pine Valley School District donated food from the South Dayton Food Pantry. Pictured, from left, are: Darlene Morrison, pantry assistant; Mary Ann Seales, Pine Valley Teachers' Association LAP Team Chairperson; Stacy Chase, Pine Valley Food Drive coordinator; Jan Crowell, food pantry coordinator; and Matthew Wittenbrook, pastor of South Dayton Free Methodist Church where the pantry is housed.
She said with the holiday season, the project would be something students could do. She was in contact with the two food pantries and knew they were in need of food. As an incentive for students to bring in more donations, Chase offered community service hours. Students in the district must complete a minimum of 70 hours of community service to graduate. Chase promised the class who brings in the most donations in the junior and senior high school would receive 10 hours toward the minimum requirement.
"(The seniors) brought in the most donations," Chase said. "They stepped it up."
The seniors brought in a total of 445 donations. In addition to the additional community service hours, the senior class received breakfast and were able to pick out a movie of their choice to watch. The top class in the elementary school will be rewarded with breakfast and a movie in January.
The second graders were able to collect the most donations with a total of 176.
The name of the food drive came from one of the faculty members at the school. Chase wanted something that would be catchy for the drive and asked students and faculty for suggestions.
"We can make a difference here at Pine Valley, if you can put in your two cents," Chase said.
Not only did the students participate, but the Pine Valley Teachers' Association got involved with the drive. The PVTA purchased reusable shopping bags that had the drive's logo printed on them to also be donated.
The students of Pine Valley did not stop at helping the surrounding communities, they also helped those within the school. The students had the Giving Tree to benefit 24 families within the district who are in need. The families are based on suggestions from school nurses and staff.
"Trees were in both buildings. The families cover all ages for students," Chase said.
Each family provided a list of necessity items along with items that the children would like. On both trees were tags of items students could purchase and donate.
"We thought it would be nice to give the (children) gifts," Chase said.
The PVTA held a bake sale to raise money. All the money raised went towards purchasing gifts for the children and for items deemed necessary by the families. The Leo Club, a community service club in the high school, held a hat and mitten drive for the families. Giving trees were located in both buildings for students and faculty to donate.
"It all worked out in the end. Everybody worked together to make a huge donation," Chase said.
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