From Staff Reports
OAK HILL —
A nook near the entrance of New River Elementary was piled high with nonperishable goods Thursday after a nearly two-week long food drive accumulated 2,024 items to be donated to a local food pantry.
Reigning supreme over the donation tallies was the fourth-grade class, which compiled more than 650 items among the six classrooms, taught by Anna Feazell, Sandra Whitaker, Shannan McKnight, Brenna Hennessy, Judy Burns and Dale Arrington.
“They worked so hard. It became very competitive,” said Whitaker.
She explained that every year, each student the entire fourth-grade class is required to complete a community service project. “Since we can’t take 150 students out into the community to pick up litter or something, we came up with this,” she said. The food drive is the fall project, and in the spring the fourth graders will host a similar donation drive for the New River Humane Society’s animal shelter.
The 2,024 items were donated to the Fayette Plateau Ministerial Association’s food pantry, which works to give out food to those in need once every month at Lewis Community Center in Oak Hill.
Fourth-grader Gavin Rust was floored when he caught wind that the number of items pushed into the thousands.
“Two thousand twenty-four?!” he exclaimed. “That’s great. I didn’t think we’d get that many.”
When questioned, he and his classmates all said the best part of the project was helping others. “It’s a good feeling that the people will get food,” said Josie Salvatore.
The food will go to good use during the upcoming holiday season, explained Pastor Mark Wood, president of the food pantry.
“This time of year, we really need help, and they came through,” Wood said. “We really appreciate it, and I hope this will inspire some similar efforts from other groups and organizations.
“This was really unexpected for us. This is a burden lifted,” he said.
(Brandi Underwood and Cheryl Keenan contributed.)