November 23, 2017
School & Youth
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  • Members of the George Fox Middle School Student Government Association hope that they surpass every other Anne Arundel County school in pounds of food collected.
    Photo Provided
    Members of the George Fox Middle School Student Government Association hope that they surpass every other Anne Arundel County school in pounds of food collected.
  • Students from Bodkin Elementary have enlivened their Harvest for the Hungry efforts by decorating canned and jarred goods with drawings of faces, which they hope will brighten the days of those who receive them.
    Photo by Dylan Roche
    Students from Bodkin Elementary have enlivened their Harvest for the Hungry efforts by decorating canned and jarred goods with drawings of faces, which they hope will brighten the days of those who receive them.
  • Students from Bodkin Elementary have enlivened their Harvest for the Hungry efforts by decorating canned and jarred goods with drawings of faces, which they hope will brighten the days of those who receive them.
    Photo by Dylan Roche
    Students from Bodkin Elementary have enlivened their Harvest for the Hungry efforts by decorating canned and jarred goods with drawings of faces, which they hope will brighten the days of those who receive them.
  • High Point Elementary aims to have 1,500 pounds – about double of their total last year.
    Photo Provided
    High Point Elementary aims to have 1,500 pounds – about double of their total last year.

Can It, Will Ya! Food Drive Helps Pasadena Kids Silence Hunger

Zach Sparks
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October 19, 2017

The heart of a blue whale weighs about 1,000 pounds. An empty 6-by-12-foot U-Haul cargo trailer is 1,920 pounds. Crocodiles can weigh up to 2,300 pounds. What is heavier than each of those things?

George Fox Middle collected 3,740 pounds of food for needy families during Anne Arundel County Public Schools’ food drive in 2016, and they’re not satisfied.

“We were the top middle school collector last year,” said Michele Fenner, a health and physical education teacher at George Fox. “We hope to be the top this year in all schools.”

George Fox was also the top Pasadena school in 2016, finishing ahead of high-performing Jacobsville (2,900 pounds), Sunset (2,507) and Bodkin (2,181) elementary schools as well as St. Jane Frances (1,517).

In the first six days of the 2017 food drive — known as Harvest for the Hungry or Kids Helping Kids — George Fox amassed more money than it did for all of October 2016. To get students into the giving mood, the school is holding a spirit month, coupling each dress-up day with a specific food or monetary donation.

One day, the kids showcased their Maryland pride, and another, they strutted about in “Green Eggs and Ham” garb while donating canned ham and spam.

The winning homeroom is also primed for a pizza party and ownership of a trophy until next year’s food drive.

“A lot of times, kids live in their own little world and don’t realize what’s going on in their own county,” Fenner said. “When they see who [the food] goes to, it drives them. They think, ‘This feeds the people in the tents.’”

Jacobsville’s target is 3,500 pounds. To meet that goal, the school arranged daily spirit days, encouraging kids to bring items and dress up. On Wake-Up Wednesday, for example, they donned pajamas and donated pancake mix, Pop-Tarts and cereal. Because hunger is ugly, students will sport silly ties and scarves on October 24.

Pointing to two recent Jacobsville accomplishments — School of Character awards in 2017 from www.character.org and the Maryland Center for Character Education at Stevenson University — school counselor Donna Kennedy said the students’ commitment to the food drive is just another example of their empathy.

“We do a lot of student-led service learning projects, several each year, and our students demonstrate outstanding character,” Kennedy said. “We completed an extensive application and were reviewed by a panel of judges who came to our school in order to win these awards. This just shows that we have a community of caring kids at Jacobsville that want to help others in their community.”

The cause is also important at High Point Elementary, which aims to have 1,500 pounds — about double their total last year. Kids gathered stuffing, mashed potatoes and green beans for Thanksgiving Thursday, and Funds for Friday enticed them to bring in cash or change, with each dollar equaling eight pounds of food.

According to High Point counselor Steven Elsis, a dedicated group of students is sacrificing recess time to collect, weigh and record food totals on a daily basis.

“We have a very nice family effort going on here, and the kids talk about their individual progress, team effort, and most importantly, how good they feel helping others,” Elsis said. “We’ve had kids state that when they get older, they want to do this and more things to help less fortunate kids in bad situations.”

Over at Bodkin, the food drive coincides with the school’s Changemakers program in which youth are encouraged to attack real-world issues. In addition to its themed days — like Mellow Yellow Monday and Wake-Up Wednesday — Bodkin added a personal touch this year.

“We had a second-grade class that decided that when we give to someone it’s to make them feel happy and cared for, so they painted a smile on each can of food,” said counselor Jenn Elsis. “It created this ripple effect that when you’re donating, you’re giving smiles.”

Elsis said that as of mid October, Bodkin accumulated 15 to 20 boxes of food to go along with two tables.

All nonperishable items are donated to the Anne Arundel County Food and Resource Bank. In 2016, the food bank provided emergency food to about 40,000 families, feeding 120,000 people; one-third of them were children.

Not only are schools competing for bragging rights and for the pure joy of giving, but the top school also earns $650 toward books, with second- through fifth-place garnering $300 for school books.

The food drive concludes October 27. To learn more, visit www.21st-education.org/give/harvest.

“Our kids are learning that they can have a positive impact on the broader community by their actions,” said Kennedy, “and this is why getting involved in causes like Harvest for the Hungry is so important.”


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