Barsanti Elementary School donated more than 1,000 food items to the Fort Campbell Chaplain’s food pantry during a ceremony Dec. 15 that concluded the school’s weeklong food drive.
With their coats and backpacks on, the Barsanti students marched into the cafeteria and took a seat on the floor, anxious to sing Christmas carols lead by their music teacher, Paula Fellows, and listen to their student body president, Savanna Richardson, 10, announce the final count of the cans.
Chris Casa Santa, Barsanti guidance counselor, helped to coordinate the food drive. He said this year the school’s goal was to collect 750 cans in one week. The food drive was designed to help the community, but also to foster an appreciation for charity, Casa Santa said.
“We try to let the children know that giving is so important,” he said. “When they are giving, it makes them feel better inside and helps their self-esteem. We like to illustrate a spirit of giving, because when they are older we want them to be good role models for other children.”
Rylee Kelley, 8, said he and his Family donated about 20 cans to the food drive. He said he is proud of what his school has accomplished, because it is important to donate and help others whenever possible.
“We donated the cans to help people who don’t have food for this Christmas,” Rylee said. “Everybody should have a good Christmas and food they can enjoy with their Family.”
Lieutenant Col. Tammie Crews, deputy garrison chaplain, attended the ceremony and accepted the donation from the school on behalf of the chaplain’s office. Crews said she did not realize the chaplains would be receiving such a large donation from Barsanti students.
“It’s been so exciting to see that the children want to be involved in doing things like this and be self-aware to help other people,” she said. This donation will help keep the food pantry stocked, especially during the holiday season, Crews said.
“Our pantry is pretty much at a minimum right now, because of all the giveaways we did at Thanksgiving,” she said. “So this will replenish and help us probably throughout the entire year when people aren’t thinking about giving so much, but the needs are still there.”
Gary Gerstner, Community superintendent of Department of Defense Education Activity schools for the Southeast District, said during the holiday season many children are focused on receiving gifts, but they are not as concerned with giving.
“You all are giving some gifts today,” Gerstner said, addressing the crowd of children. “You are still small and you are still learning the importance of giving to others. It’s a special thing to give from your heart. What you have learned today is something you should remember the rest of your life. It’s never too early to give and it’s never too late.”
Gerstner said about two food items per student were donated.
“I’m very impressed that they undertook this endeavor and were so successful in such a short amount of time,” he said. “These kids are just great.”
Savanna said she donated a couple of cans to the food drive, but she also helped to collect the cans every morning and count them.
“I also encouraged my classmates and friends to bring cans to help out the chaplains and everyone,” she said.
Although she will not be at Barsanti next year, Savanna said she wants to do a food drive at her new school next year.
“I learned that it’s best to help people rather than to get stuff for yourself that you don’t need or you already have,” she said.
Hugh McKinnon, Barsanti principal, said he is proud of his students and grateful for the generous parents, teachers and staff at Barsanti.
“This has been a very collaborative effort with all of the grade levels working together,” McKinnon said. “Having everyone working together toward that common goal has really brought us all together … it helps everyone feel a sense of belonging and a sense of community. It’s been great to have the kids give back to the community that cares for them so much.”
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