ARLINGTON — Post Middle School and the Arlington Community Food Bank have added up the collection totals of the school’s holiday collection drive for the Food Bank, and while the school’s take was impressive, the Food Bank could still use some support for the increased need of the holiday season.
In one school week, Post Middle School students and staff members collected 1,534.5 pounds of food and $1,036 in cash for the Arlington Community Food Bank, with Post Middle School ASB Advisor and Leadership teacher Robin Foster crediting these totals to the Leadership students’ emphasis on the purpose for the collection drive, rather than on the competition to collect.
“Students are collecting food and items for people that need it,” Foster said. “They don’t lose sight of this throughout the food drive.”
Post Middle School’s participation in this annual food drive goes back at least 25 years, and Foster pointed out that the scale that the school uses to weigh the food it collects is even older than that.
Foster explained that, as the food is collected, in the wake of the school’s Veterans Day assembly until the day before Thanksgiving, it’s placed on the school’s stage so that students can see the amount collected grow before their eyes.
He elaborated that Post Middle School announces daily “bonus items” during each year’s collection drive in an effort to remind students that items such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, body and laundry soap, and baby food and diapers are also important to those in need.
“This helps target items that many people don’t think about when giving to a food bank,” Foster said.
Cindy Reece of the Arlington Community Food Bank agreed with Foster’s assessment and added that such items are often too expensive for the Food Bank to purchase, so unless the community donates those items, the Food Bank is hard-pressed to carry them on its shelves.
“Cold cereal is another one that’s too expensive for us to buy,” Reece said. “Right now, with our Christmas baskets, we’re scrambling to find more meat, like ham and turkey, for those meals. Even with the students’ donations, we have about 350 Christmas baskets to fill this year and that’s a hardship to the area churches that already donate a tremendous amount toward filling our baskets.”
Among other items needed by the Arlington Community Food Bank are peanut butter, for protein, and stuffing mix, for holiday meals.
Reece expressed her gratitude to the students of Post Middle Schools and the other Arlington Public Schools that participate in this annual collection drive. The Post Middle School eighth-grade Leadership class coordinates the drive for its own school, collecting food in the morning from first-period classes before weighing it on the school’s stage in the afternoon and then sorting it out in order to make it easier for the Food Bank.
This year, Post Middle School Leadership students counted piles of coins and bills under the watchful eye of fellow Leadership student and ASB Treasurer Angel Fernandez, who has enjoyed contributing to the food drive.
“We get to help people who wouldn’t be able to afford some of these things,” said Fernandez, who made a point of praising all of the students at Post Middle School’s recent ASB meeting. “I thanked them for all of their participation. I wanted them to understand that it means a lot to our school and to our community.”
At the end of each year’s food drive, in the morning before classes start, students from all grades gather to help load the trailer that Post Middle School uses to transport the food.
“So many students help out in the morning that it can all be loaded in 20 minutes,” Foster said.
Post Middle School Principal Voni Walker and Vice Principal Alan Boatman joined the school’s Leadership class in making that delivery to the Arlington Community Food Bank this year, with the eighth-grade Leadership class bringing students from the sixth and seventh grades to reflect those classes’ contributions to the food drive.
“The food drive is one of many ways that we get to show off the students and staff of Post Middle School,” Foster said. “It really shows the things an amazing group of people can accomplish.”