Serving the Community: One Can at a Time

Staff Writer: Hannah Suh

 

Everyday we wake up knowing that we are going to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner sometime throughout the variation of the day. Occasionally, we even know what we are going to have for these meals. It is just a natural everyday routine that we have accumulated and do without thinking much about. What we forget is that there are people in communities everywhere who are not as fortunate. Many people struggle with trying to find meals that will last their family through the weekend or even a meal that will last them the day. Seeing this, Woodstock High School has put together its very own food pantry to serve their community!

 

Woodstock High School’s Assistant Principal, Nancy Henson, started this food pantry in hopes to serve her community and to help others have the opportunity to. She wanted to highlight the importance of giving to those around us, for “we should care about our community and those within it”. She talked about how, “It was brought up to me by the school’s social worker, Dr. Tara Quinn-Schuldt, last spring. They currently have the food pantry at Etowah high school, and she reached out to me and (WHS Principal) Mr. Smith to see if we would be interested in starting one here. Together we talked about it and we decided that we would absolutely love to do it!”  From then on, Woodstock High School’s administration team has been gathering together to think of ways to encourage our student body to come together to better the community.

 

Woodstock High School has been working hand in hand with Heritage Presbyterian Church to serve food to students with a system of “weekend bags”. Weekend bags will be discreetly given to “bridge the weekend gap when they do not have free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs offered at school”, stated Mrs. Henson. With the help of the Atlanta Food Bank, linked to Woodstock by Heritage Presbyterian Church, these bags will be put together for $1 per bag. Students who are currently enrolled in the Cherokee County School District free and reduced lunch program will be able to pick these up every Thursday during the last ten minutes of seventh period.
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Official Food Pantry logo designed by Heritage Presbyterian Church, our partners in this project.

Photo courtesy of: Heritage Presbyterian Church website

Obtained by: Emily Hailstone

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Atlanta Community Food Bank has helped the food pantry so much, donating tons of canned and packaged foods!

Photo courtesy of: Atlanta Community Food Bank website

Obtained by: Emily Hailstone

 

Donations from students are encouraged and accepted in many locations, including the front office, athletic office, and counseling office. Mrs. Henson talked about the type of donations that are prefered, stating how, “We are soliciting donations from kids and teachers in the community, anyone that wants to drop food off at any time can. We ask for non perishable, no glass, and nothing extremely heavy because it will go home in backpacks. We want food that is easy to make. Microwavable, individually packaged, or sometimes single serving portions; things like that in which can sustain a family through the weekend is really the goal.”

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Excepted donations include Mac n Cheese, Ramen noodles, canned soup, and more!

Photo courtesy of: Emily Hailstone

One of our many donation boxes located in the front office.

Photo courtesy of: Emily Hailstone

 

In order to encourage more students to donate, Woodstock High School decided to incorporate their tardy policy with the food pantry, allowing students to donate five items of food in place of their first Saturday school referral. Mrs. Henson explained how, ‘This would be a good fit for our students and it would two fold, eliminating some kids going to ISS for that first consequence, while it would also benefit the greater good. We felt that helping the community was a really important thing for Woodstock to do and really try to build that empathy across the student body, because when they have to think about why they are donating food, they realize that there are a lot of people that are less fortunate than them, or sometimes they may even be the recipient of that.’’ This policy was made for those students who might not be able to attend Saturday school, which would result in ISS. Woodstock, being the school that cares a lot about education, recognized that students would be missing the opportunity to learn just because they were a few minutes late to class. This policy would help knock out that factor along with helping the community and educating students about how important it is to help those around us.

 

Within the first few weeks of this new policy, Atlanta Food Bank has been generous enough to donate a “couple tons of food” to the food pantry. Every third Thursday, volunteers have been able to go through these donations, shelving and organizing the goods. Some of the Woodstock High School students with disabilities have been able to work on organizing the foods, increasing and bettering their job related skills. These amazing students and many other helpers involved in the student body would not be able to distribute the food to those in need in order to secure the identity of the recipients. Hopefully, this will encourage students who are in need of the food to come out and receive their weekend bags, knowing that their identity is secured.

 

It is so amazing of Woodstock High School to be able to come together as one student and administrative body to give back to their community. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is that students like us, who have so much, should give to those who are less fortunate out of the abundance in which we have. Who knows, maybe one of the recipients could be a friend whom you care so very much about. Author of “Irregular Scot Team One”, John Holmes, once said, “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” We hope that Woodstock High School’s philanthropy for helping their community will influence others to exercise their hearts and give back to their community, whether through donations or staring their own food pantry!

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