• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Northside students donate Halloween candy to pantry

NORTHSIDE ELEMENTARY School's student-leaders coordinated a Halloween candy drive that resulted in 81 pounds of sweet treats being donated to the Food Pantry for Woodford County. From left, front, are Lighthouse Team members Kaylin Shuck, Annika Loyet, Emma Mulvihill, Cora Morton, Haley Brown, Jack Buckley, Ethan Johnson and Kody Hager; standing behind the Northside fifth-graders are guidance counselor Mindy Woodall, left, Peggy Carter Seal and Bill Phelps, at far right, who are volunteers at the Food Pantry for Woodford County. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

Students at Northside Elementary School donated 81 pounds of their Halloween candy to the Food Pantry for Woodford County last week.

Their generosity was quite impressive - more so than if they'd contributed cans of vegetables - because "they don't value green beans as much as they do a Snickers bar," said Northside Elementary guidance counselor Mindy Woodall.

Students were asked to "figure out how much you're willing to give to others." And they responded - again.

The second annual school-wide Halloween candy drive was organized and coordinated by eight fifth-graders on Northside's student-leadership "Lighthouse Team." They wrote letters, which were sent home with every student, and introduced their project during classroom presentations, Woodall said.

Northside's student-leaders filled two large trash bags with their school's donated goodies, which were loaded into the food pantry's van on Nov. 9. Food pantry volunteers Peggy Carter Seal and Bill Phelps talked to Northside's student-leaders about how the all-volunteer organization has been helping families in the community since opening its doors in 1992. While the food pantry's name has changed, its mission has remained unchanged. Families in need of food are offered assistance.

Unlike food pantries in other communities, the Food Pantry for Woodford County allows its clients to shop for groceries.

"Ours is kind of unique in that we let the people shop," Phelps told students. ".They go through the aisles and pick out what they want." More than 110 families received groceries from the Food Pantry for Woodford County in each of the last three months, said Seal.

In addition to opening its doors to families on Mondays and Thursdays, the Food Pantry for Woodford County has two commodity programs: "Senior Day" on the first Tuesday of each month and "Third Wednesday" for anyone in need of assistance. Both programs help more than 100 people in the community each month with food commodities provided by God's Pantry, Phelps told students.

He said several community food drives led by the local high school, postal carriers, churches and other organizations are critical to the food pantry being able to help local families in need.

"And we're really fortunate in Woodford County for the generosity of people in this community because our food pantry stays pretty-well full (of groceries)," said Phelps. And because of the outpouring of generosity in the community, he said the Food Pantry for Woodford County got enough donations to build a new home to better serve families in need.

Northside Elementary School's candy drive is one of several projects and opportunities for its Lighthouse Team to learn leadership skills this school year, Woodall said.

Seal encouraged the student-leaders to start volunteering in the community when they grow up. And she lauded them, and other students at Northside, for getting behind a candy drive, which will provide "that special extra treat..."

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