UPDATE: Expectations were exceeded for this event, with enough food donations to create a reserve that will last for the rest of the school year. The district would like to thank the community, Market 32, students and the Shaker Junior High School staff for their generosity. Donations will still be gladly accepted on an on-going basis. Click here for photos of the event.
Every day 860 students walk the halls of Shaker Junior High School as seventh and eighth grade students, but some with a heavier weight to bear at home; on the weekends, they are hungry.
“I was concerned how many kids there are who do not have much food,” said eighth grader Connor Doherty. “It never crossed my mind that my classmates might go hungry on Saturday or Sunday.”
Thanks to an outreach program that started just this school year, the junior high confidentially provides backpacks of food to students in need every Friday. Junior high counselor, Stacey Angell, the founder and coordinator, has a pantry in the school’s cafeteria that houses food and toiletries. Angell says there is no application to receive a backpack.
“Families use the pantry during times of need, but those times of need may not last all year. We started off in September with 15 families, and now we fluctuate between 20 and 25 backpacks going out each week.”
Angell says with more and more kids finding out about the program, more needs are being met. However, that also means the food pantry’s stock depletes on a much quicker basis. That’s where Connor Doherty stepped in.
“I asked my dad if he would help me organize a food drive to stock our pantry,” said Doherty. “My father reached out to Ms. Angell, and the idea took off from there.”
Enlisting the help of his two friends, Alex Robin and Ethan Andrews, Doherty’s idea of a Superbowl Saturday “Stock the Pantry” food drive was born. The drop-off, curbside event will be held on Feb. 4 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the junior high; people will pull up and students will unload their donations. No one has to get out of their car and it will be completely staffed by junior high students.
“The students figure many people will be grocery shopping for the big game, so why not add a few things to their carts,” said Angell.
“I didn’t realize how low the stock was in the pantry or how many people were being supported by it,” added Robin. “I couldn’t imagine being on an empty stomach all the time. I’m so glad I’m able to help out with it.”
“We are really excited about this event, because no SJHS student should ever be hungry on the weekend,” said Doherty.
In addition to posters around the school, Doherty says Market 32 in Latham will have a donation box at the door, as well as flyers in the shopping carts about the Shaker event. His goal is to get enough donations to stock the pantry for the rest of the school year.
“The event is not only involving our community, but also having these kids walk a mile in someone else’s shoes,” said Angell. “It’s incredible.”