Dec. 1—GOSHEN — Prairie View Elementary School is hoping for the community's help gathering the items they're often short on at the end of their annual holiday food drive.
The food drive has been an ongoing tradition of the school since it opened in 2006 and it's also a hit with the students. At the end of each day of the nine-day food, the class that donates the most for that day is announced and receives the "We Can Award." The teacher from that class is then expected to wear the celebratory "We Can" suit, a soup can costume for the entire next day of school.
Each day of the drive, students are asked to donate a different item. On Tuesday, it was canned vegetables. Kay Miller's first-grade class received the honor of being the first winner of this year's food drive "We Can Award."
On Wednesday, students donated canned fruit. Thursday, they will donate paper and bath products and on Friday, boxed or canned meats and meals like Hamburger Helper, Spaghettios, or tuna. Next Monday, they will donate soup including Ramen noodles; Tuesday they'll donate cereal, peanut butter and jelly; and Wednesday will be the day for pasta, rice, and pasta sauce.
Next Thursday and Friday will be the days students need support from the community more than anything. Thursday will be cleaning products day, and Friday will be Dollar Day and catch-up day.
"We always have a big need for (cleaning products), especially laundry detergent," school counselor Marg Gingerich said. "It's just heavier for kids to bring in. The other problem is if they ride the bus, a lot of times they're riding three to a seat and it's just too crowded."
The major prohibitor of families donating cleaning products, though, Gingerich said, is the cost.
"Most everybody can bring in a couple of cans of vegetables, or a jar of spaghetti sauce, but laundry detergent is more expensive," she said.
While the school is willing to accept any donations, Gingerich believes if this year is anything like previous years, donations from students and their families will accommodate most food needs, but not laundry detergent.
Boxes are distributed to Prairie View families in need. So far, Gingerich said, 15 families have requested support, although the deadline hasn't yet come and she expects as many as 25 may apply, which is more than the 17 that applied last year.
"The children really do enjoy bringing items," Gingerich said. "I think that there are some families that donate something that they have a surplus of, but they may be receiving a box, but they happen to have something that they have more of that they're willing to share. People are very generous."
There are income or household-size checks to determine whether or not a family is eligible to receive a box. Gingerich said she feels that if only 25 families of the school of more than 400 students are requesting a food box, then those families must truly feel they need it.
"As the school counselor, I try to use it as an opportunity to teach about empathy and generosity," she explained.
Anyone interested in donating who doesn't have students at Prairie View, or whose student is unable to haul the load, may donate directly to the school's campus at 1730 Regent St., Goshen, during hours the school is open between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Dani Messick is the education and entertainment reporter for The Goshen News. She can be reached at email@example.com or at 574-538-2065.