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Haller Middle School students collect food for holiday baskets

Arlington Police Chief Robert Sullenberger stands near a collection of letters, badges and other pieces of art that local students have made for the police department. - Kirk Boxleitner
Arlington Police Chief Robert Sullenberger stands near a collection of letters, badges and other pieces of art that local students have made for the police department.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

ARLINGTON — Close to 60 students at Haller Middle School pitched in Dec. 4, on behalf of three area families in need as they assembled the materials for three full family-sized holiday meals.

Haller Middle School PE teacher girls volleyball coach Kim Anderson explained that this marked the volleyball team’s third year of holiday food collections. The food drive supplied meals to two area families during its first and second years, and spent roughly $120 on each family, but this year saw that number decline to $70 per family, since it was the first year that the food drive was collecting for a third family.

“I’d thrown around the idea for years, but the students from three years ago were the first to say, ‘We’re doing this,’” Anderson said. “As school athletes, we’re always asking the community for things, so this has been a good opportunity for us to give back. In this economy, every little bit helps.”

Vanessa Van Eyk, Alyssa Walker and Amanda Weaver were all in seventh grade at Haller when they took up Anderson’s suggested cause. This year, they returned from high school to help continue the food collection.

The students collected turkeys, stuffing, vegetables, dessert, cereal and gift cards for milk, eggs, butter and other perishable items in little more than two weeks, but when asked what the hardest part of the food drive was, Van Eyk said, “Not being able to see the families’ faces on Christmas when they enjoy their meals.”

“I think it’s more effective when we collect in smaller groups for specific families,” Walker said.

“You develop more of a personal connection that way,” Van Eyk agreed.

Anderson echoed this sentiment, noting that several food collection boxes were literally overflowing to the point that they couldn’t be closed.

“When the girls can see the impact this has on these families, it really brings it home for them,” Anderson said.

“Everyone should have a happy holiday,” Van Eyk said.

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