In a special collection on Friday, March 30 a local food pantry picked up more than 4,000 pounds of food from Austintown school students. This was a district-wide collection named "Fal-cans" that was aimed at helping the less fortunate at Easter.
"I was in Mrs. [Nicole] Kramer's first period geometry class when I learned about it," said Fitch sophomore Eraj Riaz. "We all wanted to help make a difference with the holiday coming up."
The students got behind the program when it was presented by Safe and Drug Free Schools Program coordinator Peggy Bennett and the Interact Club advisor Tina Kubaki. Together they came up with the name Fal-cans last week and the canned food collection was on at all Austintown Local Schools buildings.
Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Fitch sophomores Michael Butcher and Eraj Riaz sort canned food that was picked up last Friday by a crew from the Youngstown Community Food Center Inc. The Austintown School’s donation was estimated at over 4,000 pounds.
The collections were gathered at each school and a truck and crew from Youngstown Community Food Center Inc. and Gleaners Food Bank picked up the donations. The final stop was at Fitch where student representatives from each school showed up to see the final donation to be loaded.
Attending the final pickup was Ann Marie Martin, Safe and Drug Free Schools peer mediation coordinator. Martin was the one who suggested collecting for the Youngstown food bank and its Director Joseph Lordi.
"I know Mr. Lordi and the work he does," Martin said. "His organization provides a lot of help to those in need, but it is not a widely known organization and thus doesn't get the help others do."
Lordi was on hand to accept the donations and was able to explain the work that Gleaners Food Bank does.
"We provide food to over 88 agencies and churches in the area," Lordi said. "Many come to us on a weekly basis asking for help."
Martin said food banks are usually in good shape around Thanksgiving and Christmas as people are willing to give to help those in need. Food donated during those holidays can continue to help people through January and February. As Easter approaches, Martin said those donations have dried up, but the need hasn't and that is what prompted the Austintown students to jump in and help.
As the final collection at Fitch was loaded on the Gleaners Food Bank truck, Lordi looked over the mounds of boxes and said the collection yielded between 4,000 to 4,500 pounds of canned food.
"It is a real blessing to have this," Lordi said.
As for the students, they walked away with the knowledge that they had done something good to help those less fortunate. It was a good lesson in sharing and giving.
"I wanted to help people in need," said Fitch sophomore Michael Butcher. "Some people can't afford food and I thought this would be a great way to help out."