by Taku LaClair
This holiday season there’s the second annual Jamesville-DeWitt High School Food Drive. Music teacher Beth Quackenbush directs the food drive and and the music department helps co-ordinate. The goal for the drive is to donate and support the Jamesville and DeWitt food pantries. Donations started Wednesday Dec. 2 and ends Friday Dec. 11. J-DHS first got involved in the food drive two years ago.
Mrs. Quackenbush’s family has been helping the Fayetteville-Manlius food pantry for several years and when they moved to the Jamesville-DeWitt school district, they wanted to help out the community here, too. Her family volunteered at Jamesville’s food pantry, and then contacted Kelly Gray Smith, the head of the Jamesville food pantry, and asked how J-DHS could help the community. Mrs. Smith gave a list of food needed in our community.
Each grade has a specific job assigned. Students in all grades are asked to bring in two items. The freshman class are to bring in a box of mashed potatoes and a can of gravy per person. The sophomore class are to bring in a can of cranberry sauce and a box of stuffing per person. The junior class are to bring in two cans of peas or two cans of corn per person. The senior class are to bring a box of cake mix and a tub of frosting per person. The J-DHS faculty are asked to bring in a can of coffee plus any of the items that the students are asked to bring. Students and faculty are not held to only the items listed. They can bring in gift cards to local supermarkets and bring other food. The donations are to be hand in in to the students’ English teachers.
The food drive benefits the school and its students. “It opens our eyes a lot to the need that actually exists in our community,” Mrs. Quackenbush said. After J-DHS started the “We are J-D,” theme Mrs. Quakenbush wanted to stay true to that. She thought “We are J-D,” would be represented through J-DHS’s contributiosn to local food drives.
The 2014-2015 school year was the first year J-DHS had the food drive. As a school we made the goal and surpassed it. But most of the donations came from the faculty. To hopefully change that to more student donations Mrs. Quackenbush decided to change where students will hand in their donations. Before homeroom teachers were asked to collect items. “You go to homeroom for seven to eight minutes and sometimes you don’t even talk to your homeroom teachers,” she said. She asked some of her students which teachers they were closest to and the majority said English teachers. The lack of interaction with students’ and their homeroom teachers was the deciding factor as to why she changed the location for handing in items.
Yet the music department doesn’t have any other food drives during the school year; Mrs. Quackenbush wants to have one for the summer months. “(We) know how urgent and desperate they (food pantries) get during the summer months,” she said. There are no holidays in the summer so there are no donations. There’s no boy scout food drive or school food drives. Pantries end up being close to empty during the summer. In J-DHS the National Spanish Honor Society also runs a food drive during the school year.