Thanks to students all across Bartow County, a lot of needy families will have a lot of food for this holiday season.
Fifteen schools in the Bartow County and Cartersville City school systems banded together to collect roughly 4,500 cans of food plus other staples like pasta, cereal and snacks during the annual canned good drive for The Salvation Army and North Bartow Community Services in Adairsville.
"We believe that the kids raised more food this year than last year and are grateful and very impressed with what we received," NBCS Executive Director Brandi Smith said.
During the week of Nov. 12-16, students at Adairsville, Clear Creek, Cloverleaf, Euharlee, Hamilton Crossing, Kingston, Mission Road, Pine Log and White elementary schools; Adairsville and Woodland middle schools; and Adairsville High School as well as Cartersville primary, elementary and middle schools participated in the food drive to help Bartow families in need during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
"I think it is awesome that our kids choose to participate in a food drive for us," Smith said. "By donating to us, they are blessing numerous amounts of families that we serve. We greatly appreciate everyone that donates to us."
Smith said the donations from the drive — which is carried out by the Bartow County 4-H students at each school — are much-needed by the two organizations.
"This food drive is very important to our facility because we help approximately 115 families a month with food alone," she said. "This food helps us to give our clients a good variety of food and supplement what we receive from the Atlanta Food Bank."
Employees from the Bartow County Maintenance and Parks and Recreation departments picked up the food at the schools and delivered it to The Salvation Army and NBCS Nov. 16, Smith added.
Clear Creek, which has participated for about 10 years, collected the most items of any school —1,726 — exceeding its goal of 1,500 items.
"It's a great opportunity for our fifth-graders to learn about being community helpers, working as a team, sharing and caring for others," fifth-grade teacher Carla Bowen said. "It's a way for our students to give back to the community."
Danielle Abernathy's second-grade class collected the most of any class at Clear Creek — 652 cans, she added.
Bartow County 4-H agent Allison Perkins, who thinks the collection project has been in place for close to 30 years, was impressed with Clear Creek's haul.
"I am always thrilled to see students giving back to their community," she said. "Clear Creek Elementary does an outstanding job each year collecting food — 1,726 canned-food items from one school is impressive."
The 4-H’ers are responsible for decorating boxes for each school to use for collecting items during the drive, and they bring in food to donate as well, Perkins said.
"4-H strives to give back to the community in different ways," she said. "The food drive is a great way to help so many people."
While the amount of food collected appears to be more than last year, there were "actually less schools participating this year," Perkins said.
"I am not sure why," she said. "Each year, the North Bartow director and the Salvation Army contact the schools to see who will be participating. Some schools have a food drive to support one of their students' families or have a community member in mind."