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The Telegram
  • Students, teachers recognized for food donations

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  • ILION — Area food pantries recently received a windfall of food items thanks to local school children.
    On Thursday afternoon, some of those children and their teachers were on hand at the Mohawk American Legion to accept certificates of appreciation for their efforts. The certificates bore the name and photograph of Fallen Star SSgt. Marc Scialdo, in whose memory the food drive was conducted.
    “The kids collected a few thousand dollars worth of pasta, mac and cheese, canned soups, fruits and vegetables for six pantries and the Shepherd’s Table,” said Ray Lenarcic, of the Herkimer County Hunger Coalition, which coordinated the March food drive, which is in its eighth year.
    Schools taking part in the drive were Benton Hall Academy of Little Falls, Frankfort-Schuyler Elementary School, Dolgeville Elementary School, Fisher Elementary School of Mohawk, St. Francis de Sales Regional Catholic School and Herkimer Elementary School.
    “Every year what the schools give is phenomenal,” said Nancy Smith, coordinator of the Van Hornesville Food Pantry. “We don’t have the resources some of the larger food pantries have. We’re thankful for all the canned goods and the mac and cheese.”
    She added none of the food the children collect for the drive is outdated.
    “We used to be a pantry on wheels,” her husband, Ron Smith, who serves as president of the board for the pantry, noted. With the help of Lenarcic and the hunger coalition, they were able to establish a food pantry in the Post Office building. The pantry has been in operation since 2002, he said.
    Lenarcic commented the hunger coalition was able to assist with funds for the pantry, but added, “These people are on the ground doing the work.”
    He noted there are pantries in place now to serve residents all over Herkimer County.
    This year, the two teachers whose students brought in the most donations were given money to purchase a treat, such as ice cream or pizza, for their students. Several of the students who brought in the most donations were on hand for Thursday’s presentation.
    Frankfort-Schuyler teacher Eric Moreau said three of his students combined to bring in 288 food items. One brought in 121, another 86 and a third, 81 items.
    He said one student brought in five food items one day.
    “I said, ‘You’re the MVP today’ so after that everyone wanted to be the MVP,” said Moreau. “We say maybe someday one of your family members will need to use the food pantry.”
    Lenarcic thanked the children and their parents as well as the teachers and school administrators.
    “We want to thank the children for making a huge difference in their community,” he said.
    The food drives conducted during the past few years have netted nearly $100,000 worth of food, said Lenarcic.
    Page 2 of 2 - Each school is assigned a specific item to bring, whether macaroni and cheese, canned fruits, canned vegetables, soups or pasta. The donations are then divided among the food pantries.

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