Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
Notre Dame students are getting ready for their Seventh Annual canned food drive for area food pantries. What started with 14 pantries in 2007 has swelled now to 19 pantries and growing.
“We started this seven years ago when the Catholic Church backed away from the Crop Walk but we saw that there was still need in the community. So we started doing our food drive with the idea that we would bring in about as much as we did participating in the Crop Walk. The students kind of took it on their own to make it a bigger project than we actually thought it would be, and every year they rise to the occasion and do more than what any of us would have expected,” said Notre Dame teacher Nancy Stegman.
Several years ago, high school classes began coordinating projects to go along with the food drive.
“We had every class in the school study poverty in Scioto County. Whether it was the science class or the health class — we had one group of students who went out into the community to create a Powerpoint presentation and they took a picture of one of the local food pantries that had a sign on the door that said, ‘Sorry, we’re closed. We’re out of food.’ That really made an impact with a lot of students who said they don’t want that to ever be a reason why someone in this county can’t get food,” Stegman said.
Beginning Sunday, students will speak at local churches inviting parishioners to make a cash donation in the provided envelopes. Monetary donations can also be made at Notre Dame High School and Elementary, and all monetary donations will be divided between all 19 food pantries along with their share of food items collected by the school. Last year the school collected more than 10,000 food items for local pantries, and this year they’ve set a goal of 11,000.
“Each year we’ve increased our goal, which has been great because now we have 19 food pantries we’re supplying to,” Stegman said. “That’s a lot for a student body of our size to take on, but every year the students amaze me.”
One way students will collect donations is by leaving bags on people’s doorsteps next week with a note inviting the to fill the bag with non-perishable food items and leave it outside for students to pick-up later. If you don’t receive a bag on your doorstep, a truck will be parked outside of Notre Dame High School all next week collecting donations. Sonic restaurant is also participating next week (Nov. 3-10), by offering 10 percent off to anyone who brings with them two canned food items.
To make the food drive even more exciting for students, grades compete each year to see who can collect the most food. The same class has won that challenge every year, since it began in 2007. But that class graduated last year, leaving the top-spot open this year for a new champion to emerge.
Notre Dame junior Brooke Pierron said the program has gotten very big, and students are very excited.
“We’ve planned for it all throughout the year. We save money, like birthday money and change and that sort of stuff, to get ready for it. It’s really powerful. A lot of us go to Aldi’s and we have to warn them like a week in advance to order more food, because we clear them out. It’s just gotten so big, and it’s really amazing just to see our library filled and stacked with food,” Pierron said.
In previous years the elementary school also collected food for the pantries along with the high school. This year things have changed, and instead of the entire elementary participating at one time, grades will take turns each month. This might limit the amount of donations the school collects next week, Stegman said, but it evens out for the food pantries who then receive monthly donations instead of one larger donation.
Ryan Scott Ottney may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.