Mary B. Neal Elementary School collected more than 500 pounds of food during October for the Southern Maryland Food Bank. The school’s contribution will feed 25 families for two or three days, said Katrina Garvey, secretary to the principal at Neal. The food drive was organized by second-grade teacher Melissa Lea, who said students in the second grade brought in the most food.
“I like helping people,” said Jade Weekes, a second grader who also has an interest in environmental issues. “I thought [the food drive] would be a great opportunity to help.” Several Charles County Public Schools are holding food drives to benefit the area’s food bank which provides food to pantries in the region.
From Oct. 2 to 27, the Maryland Food Bank holds Kids Helping Kids, a food and fund drive. Schools can compete for awards —the most pounds of food collected, the highest amount of monetary donations collected and the most pounds in each county.
“It’s a friendly competition,” said Brenda DiCarlo, director of the Southern Maryland Food Bank. But the awards are just a little something extra. “It’s helping kids learn,” she said. “It’s letting our children know that by donating a simple can of food, they are helping another child or adult.”
The most needed items called for to line pantry shelves are peanut butter, macaroni and cheese, canned vegetables, rice, canned tuna fish and cereal. By supplying items to smaller, community-based pantries, the Southern Maryland Food Bank provides food for more than 8,000 people a month in the tri-county area, DiCarlo said. In Charles County, 3,500 people benefit from food pantries, she said.
While food drives are ramping up as the holiday season arrives, donations are welcome any time of year, DiCarlo said. Food and monetary donations can be dropped off at the food bank at 22 Irongate Drive in Waldorf and pickups of donations can be arranged for businesses and schools holding drives.
The need for donations is especially high during the summer, DiCarlo said. “When our demand is at the highest, our donations are at their lowest,” she said. Hunger doesn’t take a vacation. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years,” DiCarlo said. “I haven’t found it to take a holiday yet.”
The students at Neal — and at other schools in the system — are eager to do their part to help others. “You should be nice to people,” Weekes said. “It’s good to be kind.”
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,900 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.