Education: Woodleaf Elementary School restocks food pantry shelves

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Woodleaf Elementary School Student Council is made up of 12 fourth- and fifth-graders committed to making a difference.
After being selected during an application and interview process in early December, the group has already been instrumental in raising money for Relay for Life and organizing a food drive for a local food pantry.
The Woodleaf Food Drive was prompted when student council members saw a need in their own community. They set a schoolwide goal of collecting 440 items and sweetened the deal for participating classes by offering Chick-fil-A coupons for the class collecting the most items the first day and a movie/snack award at the end of the collection period for the top collecting grade level. They more than tripled their goal, with close to 1,500 items collected.
Once the collection process was over, student council members were only halfway through their responsibilities. The items were taken to the South River Food Pantry. South River United Methodist Church constructed a stand-alone food pantry several years ago, thanks in part to a large grant from the Duke Foundation. Woodleaf principal Susan Herrington decided that student council members should have an active role in stocking the pantry and arranged a field trip to the food pantry.
All items were packed on a flatbed trailer and transported to the food pantry. The school bus with student council members followed. Once at the pantry, located beside South River United Methodist Church, students were greeted by the Rev. Billy Towery and Mike and Tina Aistrop, founders of the food pantry. Students heard about the church mission and the founding of the food pantry. They learned the pantry is open two Saturdays per month and normally serves over one hundred people each day open. Relying on food and monetary donations, the pantry serves residents from Rowan, Iredell and Davie counties, focusing primarily on the western part of Rowan County.
After a pizza lunch, students got busy unloading the flatbed truck and sorting all the food items. Rotating in and out of the pantry, each child got to see exactly how the pantry is arranged and helped to stock the shelves. Once finished, with the shelves close to full, the students headed back to school feeling good about what they had accomplished.
The following Monday, student council members were told that almost all the food had been given out the previous Saturday. Over one hundred people were helped by the students of Woodleaf Elementary School. The student council members were so happy, they began talking about another food drive to help even more people.