The back packs students carry to school this week may be a little heavier than usual, and for a very good reason. Bulloch County Schools is holding its second annual “We CAN Help” food drive through Friday, and students are encouraged to bring canned food items that will be donated to the Statesboro Food Bank, Christian Social Ministries’ food bank and the Portal Food Bank.
“Bill Ross with WoodmenLife insurance and school board member Heather Mims, who works with Woodmen, brought the idea for the drive to us last year,” said Hayley Greene, public relations specialist for the school system. “The schools and the children did such a great job and there was so much enthusiasm to help, I think will do even better than last year.”
In the 2018 drive, 11,000 cans and 1,000 non-canned food items were collected, totaling 12,600 pounds of food, Greene said. Portal Elementary collected 3.5 cans per student and 1,452 total items, while Julia P. Bryant collected 1,847 cans — 2.6 cans per student.
Ross, who works with WoodmenLife in Effingham County at its Rincon office, said, “Fighting hunger has been the National Focus Project for WoodmenLife chapters across the nation for the past four years.”
Nationally, since 2015, WoodmenLife members have donated more than 831,278 pounds of food and $1,352,642, Ross said, and “we are continuing to expand the program where we can.”
“In 2017, WoodmenLife Chapter 1770 in Effingham County began our first countywide food drive. Members of the Statesboro WoodmenLife chapter, Chapter 158, routinely serve at Rebecca's Kitchen and with Christian Social Ministries. So, last year we added Bulloch County through Chapter 158,” he said.
In addition to helping organize the drive, Greene said WoodmenLife also donates $1,000 and $500 prizes to the top two schools and $100 to the top class.
Also, WoodmenLife provides banners for collection sites at 14 Bulloch County schools, and Christian Social Ministries provides collection barrels for each site, which it will gather on Monday.
“The drive hits at a perfect time for us,” said John Long, director for Christian Social Ministries. “We get almost nine months of food from the great folks at TMT Farms and their Christmas decorations tour. But we start running out about now, and this drive was a blessing.”
Any canned goods are welcome, Greene said, but she suggested the following goods: beans, fruit canned in juice, vegetables, soups and stews, tuna canned in water, canned chicken or other canned meats, pasta or spaghetti sauces, beef or vegetable broths, evaporated milk and nuts.
In addition to students, Greene said the school district encourages its employees, student families and anyone in the community to drop off canned food donations at the Bulloch County Schools Central Office or at one of the participating schools:
▲ Brooklet Elementary
▲ Langston Chapel Middle
▲ Mattie Lively Elementary
▲ Mill Creek Elementary
▲ Nevils Elementary
▲ Portal Elementary
▲ Portal Middle High
▲ Sallie Zetterower Elementary
▲ Southeast Bulloch Middle
▲ Southeast Bulloch High
▲ Statesboro High
▲ Stilson Elementary
▲ William James Middle