The Herkimer County Hunger Coalition on Thursday presented Fallen Stars Memorial Certificates to the schools that participated in the March food drive named in memory of Army Staff Sergeant Marc Anthony Scialdo.
The certificates included a picture of the Herkimer native that was killed in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan on March 11. Scialdo, a Black Hawk crew chief with the 603rd Aviation Support Battalion, was living in Savannah, Ga.
The certificates were presented to Benton Hall Academy in Little Falls, Fisher Elementary School in Mohawk, Frankfort-Schuyler Elementary School, Herkimer Elementary School and St. Francis de Sales Regional Catholic School in Herkimer.
“We can't thank the participating schools - the students, faculties and administrators - enough for their efforts on behalf of our food pantries and their clients over the past eight years,” hunger coalition Founder Ray Lenarcic said Thursday afternoon. “All told they've collected about $80,000 worth of canned goods, macaroni and cheese and pasta.”
In addition to presenting the certificates to the schools, the coalition presented Gold Star Banner Awards to Herkimer Elementary School and St. Francis de Sales Regional Catholic School for their participation in not only the March food drive, but other coalition projects and charities over the years. Previous banner winners include Benton Hall Academy, Fisher Elementary and Frankfort-Schuyler Elementary.
“Not only have these schools participated in this and other coalition projects, but they have participated in projects for other charities ranging from the Leukemia Society and Relay For Life to Project Eliminate and Haitian relief,” said Lenarcic. “These experiences on behalf of others will serve the children well as they venture through their lives.”
“We do it because of the children. They are incredibly compassionate and truly care about others. They drive these projects,” said Lisa Rice, a first-grade teacher at Benton Hall. “What a great thing to instill in our children at a young age. Hopefully they will take the compassion they've learned and continue to help others as they age.”
“The children do these projects because they want to help others in need,” said Paula Franco, a sixth-grade teacher at St. Francis de Sales. “They don't have to be coerced. They truly just want to help. They enjoy being part of projects like this.”
Lenarcic said over the last four years Herkimer County's food pantries have served more than a half million meals. “Ten years ago they distributed about 60,000,” he said. “You can see the importance of and the need for projects like this.”