A school bus packed with boxes of canned goods, frozen turkeys and the Mont Pleasant Middle School Student Council navigated the maze of streets around the school on Thursday.
Traveling down Bridge Street to Crane Street and Second Street, the bus stopped at 20 homes, as students trickled out and hefted the boxes to front doors. Greeting each person they visited, the students piled back into the bus and headed to the next stop, checking off a list of addresses.
“It’s probably going to be enough for the next couple of months,” seventh-grader Brian Kuder said of the food that was delivered to each home.
Kuder started the seasonal food drive last year. This year, the effort was met with even more excitement – and more food donations to the school.
“I would like to tell the students I’m very appreciative of everything they’ve done,” said Jackie Gentry, who has a seventh-grade son at Mont Pleasant Middle School and has lived in the neighborhood for more than 20 years. Her house was one of the first stops of the day.
“They need more programs like this to teach the kids there’s a better way … a lot of people are struggling, and [the students] are doing things that are righteous and good," Gentry added.
Last year, the food drive garnered around 300 cans of food. This year's drive started with a goal of collecting 1,500 cans of food, but students got around 2,300, as well as boxes of vegetables, pasta, rice and other kitchen staples. There were also 18 turkeys and two hams donated to the program.
Next year, the Student Council has an even more ambitious goal.
“Our goal is 3,000 [cans],” said sixth-grader Toshani Somwaru.
The school’s parent liaison, Anna Robinson, helped pick the 20 homes to receive the donations -- many of which have kids at the middle school -- and joined the students for the drop-offs. Student council adviser Angela Suflita also helped with deliveries, though students themselves organized the entire effort, she said.
“They took this and just ran with it,” she said.
The students discussed ideas to gather more donations next year and reflected on how this year's drive went. They said they did a better job of turning the program into a competition: The first-floor sixth-grade class won by collecting the most cans.
“One person saw a child bringing in stuff, so the other child brought something in,” said seventh-grader Parmesh Thakoordial.