Small school gets big results with canned food drive

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The Fayette County Alternative School is proving that it only takes a few people to make a big difference in the community.

Only two days after the start of the first canned food drive the school has ever sponsored, students and staff were just shy of collecting nearly 500 cans of food. That is amazing considering the school has about 50 students and less than 20 staff members.

“I was so blown away. I almost started crying. I am probably one of the happiest teachers in the county right now,” said Jackie Simmons, a teacher at the school whose idea it was to have a food drive.

The initial goal was to collect 200 cans in one week since it was the first time the school had done a drive. Simmons says some of her colleagues told her that the goal was too low and that she should not share it with the school. Not sure of the kind of response she would get from the staff and students, she went along their suggestion anyway and she is glad she did.

“They were right, we collected 161 cans on the first day,” she said.

Simmons wanted to organize the drive so that the Alternative School, as a whole unit, could do something to help the community. And it is not just the community that is benefitting. The students are experiencing the joy of giving to others, and practicing some of the ideas they are learning in the school’s “Habitudes Character Education” program. They are getting a math lesson as well. One of the teachers is using the project as a graphing exercise.

“Often times our students feel disconnected from the community as well as their school. This is their opportunity to make a positive contribution to the community. We have caring students and families here at the Alternative School. We are in a special situation to have students from all over the county, and we are proud of our students here,” said Simmons.

The food will be divvied up between the school system’s CARE (Children at Risk in Education) program and the local homeless shelter for women and children.
There is a friendly competition going on among homerooms; the one that collects the most cans gets a pizza party. Although the party is an incentive to bring in cans, Simmons knows that the real drive behind the donations is simply the desire in everyone’s heart to help those who are less fortunate.

“To be able to help others in need, and to have the support of faculty, staff, students, and parents are all I could wish for,” said Simmons.