- Southwood Elementary School
Students put spirit of giving into practice
When the staff at Spring Arbor, the assisted living facility in Kinston, launch their annual canned food drive, they know where to find helpers – Lenoir County’s public schools.
This year’s drive collected more than 10,800 cans of food to stock the shelves of Mary’s Kitchen and to help feed the local homeless and indigent population. Thousands of those cans were donated as the result of drives organized by student organizations at nine LCPS schools, according to Andrew Mozingo of Spring Arbor.
“It was fantastic,” Mozingo said. “The schools were the biggest part of our success this year.”
The canned food campaign, which concluded earlier this month, was just one of numerous ways student-led groups like FFA, DECA, National Honor Society and student governments groups practiced the altruism that’s a hallmark of the holiday season. Many of these acts of kindness were performed anonymously, a few by individual students who saw a need and acted on it, and others – like the Spring Arbor campaign – with a host of helpers and a high degree of organization.
This year, Spring Arbor set a goal of 10,000 cans – an increase of 2,000 from last year – and ended up collecting almost three-quarters of all the food donated to charities through facilities in four states owned by HHHunt, Spring Arbor’s parent company. For every can donated to Spring Arbor, HHHunt donated a dollar to Mary’s Kitchen.
Four LCPS schools – South Lenoir High, Woodington Middle, Southeast Elementary and North Lenoir High – accounted for more than 2,000 donated cans. Also contributing were Pink Hill Elementary, Northwest Elementary, Kinston High, Contentnea-Savannah K-8 School and Early College High School. Early College students also donated their time to help shelve the canned good at Mary’s Kitchen.
A few other acts of kindness performed by LCPS students as Christmas approached included:
-- The second annual “Boxes of Cheer” campaign organized by the cheer squad at E.B. Frink Middle School. Cheerleaders collected enough items to provide more than 40 boxes to students at schools that feed into Frink. Each box was personalized with the child’s favorite color, toy, book and superhero.
“Our ultimate goal is to bring a smile and a little hope to a family during the holiday season,” LaPorscha Gardner, teacher and cheer squad coach, said. “FMS cheerleaders and I would like to thank our parents, community, local businesses, feeder schools and guidance counselors for helping make this service project a success for these young ladies. I pray that it’s an act of kindness that they will always remember being a part of.”
-- The annual food drive held at La Grange Elementary School. Approximately 922 items were collected and donated to the First Missionary Church of La Grange. The church assists the school with the FLOK program, a weekend food program for students in need, and also opens a food pantry to community members in need. “Most importantly, students learn about community service and helping community members in need,” school counselor Elaine Yarbrough said.
-- South Lenoir High’s campaign to assist the NC Veterans Home in Kinston and collect food for the Neuse Federal’s Cans for Christmas Food Drive. The SCA collected books, lotions, blankets and other essentials for residents of the Veterans Home, getting an assist from the school cheer squad. FFA members led the canned food drive.
-- A Christmas dance at Contentnea-Savannah K-8 School hosted by the National Junior Honor Society, which raised money for the Lenoir County SPCA through ticket and concession sales. The FFA chapter at CSS also partnered with the Neuse Regional FFA chapter to collect canned goods for families in need in Lenoir County.
-- The Giving Tree campaign at Banks Elementary School. A holiday fixture for more than two decades, the Giving Tree collects food and supplies for Lenoir County’s homeless shelter. When a student brings in a donation, an ornament is placed on the Christmas tree in the school’s lobby. Teachers encourage parents to make a donation rather than purchase a “teacher’s gift” for Christmas.
Cheerleaders at E.B. Frink Middle School assemble ‘Boxes of Cheer’ for delivery for students at schools at feed into Frink who need help this Christmas. The campaign, which made gifts to more than 40 students this month, is in its second year.