Students at several Hernando County schools have been busy making sure that needy people have plenty to eat during the holidays.
At Deltona, the K-Kids, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club, sponsored a Turkey Trot to raise food for families within their school.
A letter was sent home to parents, the K-Kids made posters and the club's sponsor teacher, Brad Durspek, appeared on the school's morning show to encourage students to bring in nonperishable food.
Food gift cards were also welcome, and the school had a surprise donation when one parent dropped off 20 $20 food cards. Durspek explained that the parent was going through some rough times a few years ago. She gave the cards, he said, "to pay us back for having helped when she needed it."
With the food collection, the $400 in gift cards and more than $300 collected from the school staff, Durspek said, "Now we have enough for Thanksgiving and Christmas. And, since there is enough food, the Reindeer Trot, the Christmas collection, will be for stocking stuffer toys."
Seventeen families identified by school guidance counselor Amy Gendron benefited from the Turkey Trot.
Fox Chapel Middle
At Fox Chapel, the student government sponsored a holiday food collection, partnering with the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.
The student government members; their adviser, eighth-grade U.S. history and career planning teacher Magen Schlechter; Title I parent educator Missy Wyzykowski; and school resource officer Wendy McGinnis came up with the idea and carried it out.
The total collection came to 161 grocery bags of canned food and toiletries. The students stuffed a Sheriff's Office Humvee. Fox Chapel's collection was for the benefit of the community.
The Fox Chapel student government officers are Colin Brooks, president; Matthew Frankel, vice president; Markia Jennings, treasurer; Catherine Hurtado, secretary; Hailey Schubert, historian; and Alfred Gaier, sergeant at arms.
At Suncoast, the K-Kids held a Salvation Army food drive. Guidance counselor Teresa Jones, 47, who sponsors the K-Kids with assistant principal Lisa Briathwait, 39, helped students coordinate it.
The organization at Suncoast includes fourth- and fifth-graders. Some of them described their most recent project.
"We're doing a food drive for the Salvation Army because some people will need food for the holidays and they may not have enough," said fifth-grader Rebekah Carmack, 10.
Fifth-grader Abby Oliver, 10, explained how they advertised the drive to encourage contributions.
"We made big posters and we went out to the pickup drive and we held up the posters," she said. "On the loudspeaker, a couple of K-Kids went in and said, 'Please bring in canned goods and boxed goods to help the Salvation Army food drive.' "
Fourth-grader Adam Quarante, 9, went into classrooms and announced the food drive. K-Kids, said fifth-grader Austin Jones, 10, "would go out and collect the canned goods."
Fifth-grader Brittany Crima, 10, explained why they did it.
"It helps the people that need food, and they don't have anything else," she said. "They will have a better holiday and Thanksgiving and so they won't starve."
The group has more projects planned, like helping the Spring Hill Kiwanis with its community pancake breakfast.
"We're going to be helping and cleaning up," Abby said. And "help people carry their food to the table," Rebekah added.
Later in the year, the K-Kids hope to do a school cleanup.
They will also go to classrooms to read and distribute books provided by the Kiwanians.
The K-Kids Club is in its sixth year at Suncoast.
"We wanted to help out our community," Jones said. "And we wanted to let our kids know to help the community at an early age."