More than 1,000 food items collected for Middle School food drive competition

Feb 13, 2021

This story has been updated to include information about the winning cohort.

The moment Jackie Arsenault, executive director of Wareham’s Family Pantry at Damien’s Place, stepped into the Wareham Middle School lobby on Friday, Feb. 12, she knew she would need a bigger vehicle. 

“This is a wonderful surprise,” Arsenault said, surveying the food items amassed in the school lobby. She hadn’t been expecting the food drive — which the Middle School had organized all on its own — to result in so many donations, she said.

Middle School cohorts competed in the food drive, which was conducted by the Middle School Student Council and National Honor Society. 

Donations were collected from Jan. 25 through Feb. 9 — just 15 days total. 

Because it was a competition, the co-advisors of the Middle School Student Council, Katherine Frain and Jessica Hathaway, knew that exactly 1,484 food items were collected by the students, their families and school staff. 

The cohort that collected the highest number of items — Mikayla Smith’s homeroom and the 6th grade blue team — won the grand prize, which will consist “of some treats and games so we can include our remote students,” Frain said.

And it wasn’t just Middle Schoolers taking part. Although Minot Forest Elementary wasn’t part of the competition aspect of the food drive, the school’s front office secretary, Tracy McGraw, got the elementary schoolers involved collecting food too. Donations also came from clients at Bladez Hair Salon, McGraw said.

Frain and Hathaway also thanked the school’s remote students and praised their efforts.

“We left a drop box out front and we had a lot of donations from families,” Frain said. 

Two students who help out the Student Council and who participated in the food drive were on hand to help Arsenault pack up her SUV to full capacity.

“I’ll definitely send the truck back, rather than try to make trips with the car,” Arsenault said as she realized many boxes remained after the vehicle was full. 

Sixth grader Damon Dows said he enjoyed calculating how much had been collected. 

“I thought it was fun because [...] there was food for everybody,” Dows said. “There was baby food, cat food and there was some food for people who can’t chew and stuff. It was really heartwarming.”

Kylah Ormsbee, a fifth grader, was quick to agree with Dows. She also pointed out that some non-food items had been collected as well, including toothbrushes and soap.

“I liked it because I liked giving food to people,” she added. 

Frain and Hathaway weren’t certain, but they thought Dows might be part of the winning cohort. 

Arsenault said that donations of food are always exciting for the pantry.

“The nice thing about donations [is that] it gives a nice variety to what we usually get,” she said. “So it adds a lot of surprises in with the groceries for the clients.”

Arsenault said she was grateful for the donations the students had gathered, noting that donations from groups and individuals keep the pantry going.

“It’s a terrific help,” Arsenault said. “They think of things that we can’t always get, so it’s nice.”

She thought it was a valuable learning opportunity for the students as well, she said.

“I think it’s wonderful that the kids experience the idea of making donations and understanding that there is hunger as an issue,” Arsenault added.

Frain and Hathaway also thanked the school’s National Honor Society for sponsoring the event and advisor Jessica Andrews for her help.