Fast forward 11 years to 2013, and my twins were at a small private school for kids who lived all across the city. I proposed to the school that we have a similar canned good drive, and the project was approved. This school required volunteer hours for students as part of their desire to educate the whole person. Students were allowed to earn volunteer hours by collecting canned goods which in turn parents helped drive to a local food bank. We donated the cans we collected to the Capital Area Food Bank; another local organization that would happily accept such donations is Safeplace.
Organizing and preparing for this project really did not take a great deal of effort. I did most of the preparation from home, and I’ve attached the documents from my work below so that others might use them as templates for similar drives. I let teachers, students, and families know through the various electronic media for the school that this drive was happening. I found students to help box up the collected items. I organized families to drive the canned goods to the food bank and to donate baked goods for the winning advisory (also called a homeroom at other schools). The afterschool club at the school made posters to hang around the school to increase awareness about the project, too.
The family preparation for my kids to participate was rather easy. We have a wheeled utility cart that I use for farmers’ markets, so we had a way to carry the canned goods between houses. We had spare boxes in the garage to put the collected items into. We were ready to go.
While my kids were hesitant at first, they quickly realized how willing neighbors were to help. It was very rare that someone did not give us a donation of at least one canned good, and quite often, they gave us more. The neighbors also always offered the kids candy even though that wasn’t the goal. Over the course of the evening, we made a couple of stops back at the house to unload the collection so that the cart didn’t get too heavy.
One thing that I had not anticipated was people wanting to donate cash or checks instead of canned goods. If I run a project like this again, I would allow students to collect checks made out to the organization we were contributing to, and I would figure out a conversion amount (such as $1=1 canned good) for tabulations for the advisory competition we had going on.
When one is homebound and disabled, it can be hard to give to others. Projects like organizing this canned food drive are something that can be done from home if you have a couple of great assistants helping you. Both my ex-husband and the woman we carpooled with were incredibly helpful in doing legwork for the project that was beyond my physical abilities. The net result was great. The kids collected hundreds of meals worth of canned goods and made Halloween a little more meaningful for everyone involved.
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