• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Coming together at WCHS to help less-fortunate families

OLIVIA BACK, Hinzee Smith and Maddie Gatewood, pictured left to right, sorted boxes of macaroni and cheese, donated during the Thanksgiving Food Drive at Woodford County High School. "It just feels good to help people," said Hinzee, a junior. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

Students and teachers at Woodford County High School, with the support of others in the community, celebrated Thanksgiving by donating 9,561 nonperishable food items and $3,453 in cash donations. Their contributions ensured less-fortunate families in their community would be able to share a Thanksgiving meal together. "It's a wonderful day to celebrate us as a community and us as Woodford County High School giving back to those who need it in our community," said state Rep. James Kay, a WCHS graduate and guest speaker during this year's Thanksgiving assembly on Nov. 22. Kay shared a story about this country's first Thanksgiving, and then reminded students and teachers about neighbors who are struggling. "You recognize that struggle. You believe you can make a difference and help those who are struggling," Kay said. "Hunger is a very solvable problem. In one of the counties in Kentucky with the most abundance, we have the tools and the ability to solve hunger. And you are showing it and displaying it by your ability to give back today." In closing this year's Thanksgiving assembly, Principal Rob Akers lauded WCHS students for stepping up so hundreds of less-fortunate families in the community would have a meal together this Thanksgiving. Akers, now in his 12th year as principal at WCHS, reminded students that Thanksgiving is his favorite day of the year because of "how our school gives thanks and gives back. I have never seen another school that has a stronger social conscience than our school does." Once last week's Thanksgiving assembly ended, a team of volunteers led by school social worker Sara Swinford began sorting donated food items, which filled boxes to feed more than 250 less-fortunate WCHS families on Thanksgiving, with "a lot of extras" for additional meals over the five-day holiday weekend. "The buy-in from (our students) is amazing because they're all a part of it," said Swinford. "They bring in the food. They help sort it." She described watching families pick up their Thanksgiving boxes as her reward. "The thought of people going hungry on Thanksgiving - when we have so much - is really extremely sad," said WCHS junior Holly Mattox. "So it's really great to help out." "It just feels good to help people," added Hinzee Smith, also a junior. Besides feeding less-fortunate WCHS families, more than 10,000 food items - weighing 6,219 pounds - from this year's Thanksgiving Food Drive restocked the shelves at the Food Pantry for Woodford County. The Spanish Honor Society joined the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America in organizing this year's Thanksgiving Food Drive Assembly at WCHS. "I'm surprised every year - the generosity that we have for families," said FCCLA sponsor Lindsey Raterman. Knowing thousands of donated food items were delivered to WCHS a day before last week's assembly reminds everyone "there's this good in the world," said Raterman.

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