As the days are getting shorter, the crisp and earthy atmosphere of November has set in, and most are yearning for the holiday season to begin. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving break, South hosts its annual canned food drive in order to assist those struggling with food insecurity. This year, students will be able to donate cans from Nov. 1-23, Mark Maranto, assistant principal for student activities, explained.
Each year, Student Council collaborates with the Northfield Township Food Pantry to help those in need, Maranto said. During the canned food drive, students can donate anything from pasta to laundry detergent. If students are unable to donate, Maranto explained that there are many volunteer opportunities they can participate in as well.
“Anyone can volunteer on the days that we take food over to the food pantry,” Maranto said. “If you can’t donate, we understand, the pandemic has hit people very hard in a variety of ways. We don’t expect anybody to give what they don’t have.”
Covid-19 caused an increase in need while disrupting the distribution of donated items, Maranto said. He explained that the food pantry is in need of more donations during times where resources like this are vital to families, especially those who have not needed aid from food pantries in the past.
“There was a 200 percent increase in the usage of the pantry during Covid-19,” Maranto said. “[Because] families that had never needed the service before were going through job insecurity and illness.”
Gayle Curcio, Community Coordinator for the Northfield Township Food Pantry, expressed that in this time of food struggle, the pantry appreciates any and all donations.
“We are extremely grateful for the on-going support we receive from everyone at South,” Curcio said. “The success of the annual food drive speaks to the commitment everyone has to our community and our neighbors in need.”
The Student Council also plays a huge role in the canned food drive. At the head of this year’s planning is senior Leah Hides, student body vice president, who encourages everyone to do what they can to contribute to the drive.
“[Student Council is] always planning things for our school and for us, [but] this is one of those events where we’re helping people outside the community,” Hides said. “We live in this bubble, and it’s a good feeling to see people [get help].”
Senior Hannah Stettler, student body vice president, explained that Student Council is also holding a basketball game on Nov. 17 in order to help raise more donations for the drive.
“It’s a regular basketball game, but you can either pay for a ticket or [donate a can], and the proceeds go to the canned food drive,” Stettler said.
The canned food drive ultimately spreads awareness about hunger and encourages everyone in the community to help out, Interim Principal Dr. Rosanne Williamson explained. She feels that the drive provides substantial items to people in the community and surrounding communities as well.
“The drive [is] a great way to give back to the entire community, and especially with holiday season coming up there are families that will be in need of additional support and resources,” Williamson said.