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Education Features

Food drive pits school against school


Two Catholic elementary schools brought a food fight to a whole new level. Notre Dame Academy in South Buffalo challenged St. Amelia School in Tonawanda to a friendly food drive competition, with the winning school receiving an ice cream party and a dress down day.

The food collected at Notre Dame Academy went to the Bishop Kmiec Food Pantry. St. Amelia’s collection went to the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Billy Doll, Cash Kirkby, Amber Vanderbush and Brennan Balen from Notre Dame Academy help unload the hundreds of food items collected by their school at the Bishop Kmiec Food Pantry in Buffalo. (Photo by Patrick J. Buechi)

“Competitions inspire students to want to participate. Why not have them compete for a good cause,” said Notre Dame Principal Jenniffer Maslakowski.

The schools are equally matched with just over 400 students each. The final tally saw St. Amelia’s had 2,331 items, while Notre Dame Academy had 2,057. Notre Dame has asked for a two-day extension as the South Buffalo school was forced to shut down due to a snowstorm.

At St. Amelia’s, all students in the pre-K3 through eighth-grade classes were asked to bring in non-perishable food items. They brought them in by the bagful.

“Mrs. (Kathryn) McIntyre (principal) updates them every day on the announcements,” explained Jillian Golinski, advancement director for St. Amelia’s. “They are so invested in how many items we brought in. Every day they ask, ‘What is our total?’ I think when they see it on the table when they walk in, they get so excited. Every week, it keeps getting bigger and bigger.”

Golinski admits things started out slow with only 38 items in the first week, but after Mrs. McIntyre put out a special request, over 700 items came in the next week.

“They really came out for St. Amelia’s,” Golinski said.

Eighth-grade officers helped in the weekly collection of the food items and carried it all into the food storage garage at the parish.

“I thought it was a good idea, because the whole school’s participating, so obviously you’re going to get a lot of food to help people who need it,” said Hannah Morrow, one of the officers. “But I did like the friendly competition with the other school.”

Maslakowski discussed reasons for the food drive with her students.

“I asked a few third-grade students why they thought we were bringing in food. Brooklyn Zippier told me that, “Some people don’t have food and they are homeless and they didn’t get to eat for Thanksgiving, so we are bringing food for them. Christian Behr told me that we need to feed the homeless people and that is why we brought food in,” she explained.

Some of the students from Notre Dame helped drop off the food at the Bishop Kmiec Food Pantry in Lackawanna.

St. Amelia School’s eighth-grade officers Hannah Morrow, Ava Cavarello, Billy Kennedy and Nicholas O’Day take note of the food donations that came in during a food drive competition with Notre Dame Academy. (Photo by Patrick J. Buechi)

The pantry was able to serve 98 percent of their clients for Thanksgiving, but now face bare shelves. “We’re having a hard time keep up with meat items,” said Darlene Sery, food coordinator. “It’s slow coming in. So, it’s been a bit of a struggle to keep the meat and stuff in the freezers. Canned goods are just leveling out. It’s really a blessing that we’re getting the food from Notre Dame Academy to help supplement what we’re trying to do here.”

The kids really gave it their all from bringing in extra food items from home to carrying big boxes of canned goods into the pantry.

“It’s great seeing everyone from all the grades pitching in. It’s amazing to see the entire school working together,” said eighth-grader Billy Doll.

“It feels really incredible. Some people can’t afford these types of food. Helping them with this, helping them fight hunger is really amazing,” added Cash Kirkby from sixth grade.

Even though St. Amelia’s brought in more food, The Notre Dame students haven’t let being second place damper their pride in their accomplishment.

“It’s not really a competition. It’s more of us feeding people than the actual competition itself,” said Amber Vanderbush, sixth grade.

Although, St. Amelia’s will receive the ice cream, the real winners were the people who will be receiving the meals.