Move over, Principal Wanda Golosky. Jackie Alicea is now the top turkey at Euchee Creek Elementary School.
During a Thanksgiving food drive Nov. 11-22 for the Salvation Army and United We Care, pupils voted for their favorite "top turkey" by bringing in cans of food items.
Each classroom had a turkey, and for each food item a feather was placed in its tail. The class whose turkey had the most tail feathers received a fast-food coupon and the teacher received a top turkey to display in their classroom. Alicea's class alone collected 462 cans, while Euchee Creek collected 3,673 cans of food.
The competition for the top turkey was heated. Teachers bribed pupils with extra recess, candy treats and extra computer time. Third-grader Jessica Finley went door-to-door in her neighborhood and collected 61 cans, and fifth-grader John David Harold spent $80 of his allowance to buy 200 food items.
"Salvation Army brought us 15 boxes and we've already filled them," said counselor Pam Edmundson, who coordinated the project. "We had 1,200 cans as of Friday, and we've got the rest of the week to go."
Euchee Creek was one of 15 Columbia County schools that participated in food drives this holiday season.
"Last year, local schools donated 50,000 cans, and we are expecting even more this year," said Ericka Mitchell, director of development for the Salvation Army.
The Salvation Army relies heavily on schools to supply the food that they use in their programs.
"The value of the canned food the schools provide us is immeasurable not only during the holidays, but throughout the year," Mitchell said. "We really couldn't provide many of our programs without the assistance of the schools. We're expecting to serve 3,000 local families with Christmas assistance this year. Each family will receive several bags of groceries so they can make a Christmas meal and stock the panty. Without the kids, we wouldn't be able to do that."
The Salvation Army uses the food in a variety of ways, including meals at Thanksgiving and Christmas in its soup kitchen, grocery assistance as part of the Christmas program and to help stock the food pantry.
Greenbrier High School held on to its record as the top can producer - even exceeding the record set last year.
The school collected 5,044 cans - 149 boxes of food - which is 1,000 more cans than last year, said business teacher Rebecca Tyson, who coordinated the drive along with her Future Business Leaders of America members.
"I was amazed because last year, I didn't think there would be any way to top that," she said.
Some of the Columbia County schools participating in community service projects during the holidays include:
Grovetown Elementary School. It collected canned goods for the Salvation Army, while staff members are donating clothes, food and money to the Columbia County Foundation for Children, an organization that gives Christmas assistance to families and serves the county's children all year.
Fifth-graders are participating in 4-H service projects, collecting clothes and toys for Goodwill, collecting canned goods for the Raintree Children's Home in Valdosta, Ga., and collecting toiletry items for the Grovetown Senior Center.
Greenbrier High School. Its Family, Career and Community Leaders of America chapter is adopting two needy families for Christmas this year through the Columbia County Foundation for Children. In addition, they will visit Greenbrier Elementary School to work with the children, do a safety presentation and deliver holiday goodies.
Grovetown Middle School. Itsstudent council is conducting a school-wide canned food donation drive for the Golden Harvest Food Bank. The school also is working with local charities to supply holiday gifts for needy families. In December, the Beta Club will be making and sending holiday cards to local seniors. The counseling department also has a continuous "clothes closet" with donations made by teachers and staff.
North Columbia Elementary School. It collected eight boxes of food for Columbia County families who were in need of help with Thanksgiving meals. All items collected were sent to Columbia County Cares. From Nov. 4-12 children brought cans of pumpkin pie mix, green and yellow vegetables, gravy packets, boxes of cornbread and muffin mixes and bottles of hand soap.
Martinez Elementary School. It held a canned food drive Oct. 1-Nov. 21 for the Salvation Army. The student council set a goal of 500 cans (approximately the number of students attending the school), and exceeded its goal, collecting 537 cans. A graph was posted on the wall in the lobby showing the pupils' progress. This is the first year the school has had a student council and its members were in charge of counting the cans each day, boxing them and marking on the graph. To show appreciation, the student council sponsored a pajama day Tuesday to coincide with the Citizenship Assembly honoring pupils who have been voted good citizens by their classmates.
Riverside Middle School. It wrapped up a student council fund-raiser last Friday with an assembly to recognize the top givers. Teacher Melissa Heckathorn won first place in the "feather your teacher" contest. Her class bought 254 feathers for her. She also won first place in the "feed the teacher" contest. Pupils donated money and the winning classes had student representatives that fed each other while blindfolded during the assembly. The event also kicked off the school's Toys for Tots drive. The school also is collecting canned good for Golden Harvest Food Bank, collecting clothes for the needy and several teams are adopting families for the holidays.
Lakeside Middle School. Its Family, Career and Community Leaders of America chapter is sponsoring a Toys for Tots drive Dec. 2-6. Members will collect toys in the lobby of the school Monday through Friday.
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