Another successful food drive, which benefited the Food Pantry, graced Pine Island Elementary School again this year.
David Grueser, president of the Food Pantry, said pantry officials are very appreciative of what Tina Garris efforts have provided . He said it was amazing to see all the food the students collected for them.
Garris, a Pine Island Elementary School fifth grade teacher, said this year the students collected 1,121 food items. She said Julie Whitt's classroom won first place, claiming a pizza party for collecting the most cans 259. Garris' class claimed second with 149 cans, earning her students an ice cream party.
Pine Island Elementary School 5th grade students held the annual Food Pantry food drive again this year, which collected 1,121 food items school wide.
Last year the students collected more than 1,900 food items for the Food Pantry.
Garris said although she has held the food drive for the past 15 years, since she started at the school, it was held for many years before her arrival. The food drive initially helped the Salvation Army before the cans collected stayed on the island to help the island community.
Since she has kept the food drive going, her fifth grade class helps in running the 10-day drive. Garris said her students were in charge of taking a count of how many cans were collected at the end of each school day, as well as promoting the drive on the morning news and wearing can food costumes to encourage students to bring back canned goods at the end of the day.
Aaliyah Jackson, 10, said they also made flyers and posters to help get the word out about the drive. She said she enjoyed the food drive because the students were collecting food to give to others.
Aaliyah contributed to the cause by asking her neighbors for canned goods as well as looking in her own pantry at home.
Mariah Ramirez, 10, said she enjoyed collecting food for the hungry and those in need.
"I love collecting the cans for those who need it," she said, which included collecting cans from neighbors and her own home.
Mariah said she dressed up as a can at the end of the day near the parent pick-up and school bus loading area to encourage the other students to help the Food Pantry.
"I enjoyed the thought (that) we are donating food for those in need," Savahna Flint, 10 said. "I really like helping people."
She said she went to Winn-Dixie with her mom to purchase cans for the food drive.
"My mom really likes helping people, too," Savahna said.
Eleven-year-old Matthew Fraiser's favorite part about the food drive was when individuals from the Food Pantry came and picked up the food from the school.
The Food Pantry is housed in the Life Center of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church on Stringfellow Road in Bokeelia. Non-perishable food for the pantry can be dropped off at Winn-Dixie, VFW, American Legion, Moose Lodge, Stonegate Bank and the Matlacha Post Office.
For information, call 239-443-6561.