By Leejay Lockhart, Fort Campbell CourierDecember 24, 2015
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (Dec. 23, 2015) -- There are many ways to celebrate the holidays and Lincoln Elementary School's 572 students celebrated the season by giving. At the conclusion of a weeklong food drive the school collected 680 items of food.
To put this bounty to good use the students donated the food to the Fort Campbell garrison chaplain's office. Col. Terry Austin, garrison chaplain, accepted the generous gift Thursday -- the last day of the food drive at Lincoln.
Members of Lincoln's student council presented the donation to Austin before the third grade holiday music program. Syann Bradley, a third grader at Lincoln and member of the student council, spoke on behalf of the council. In addition to the food donation, Lincoln Elementary also made Austin an honorary member of the school.
Bradley presented Austin with a school T-shirt and he joked out loud how he wished could be young again so he could attend Lincoln, which drew delighted laughter from the third graders.
After that, Austin took a few moments to thank the students for their kindness and guaranteed he would put the food to good use.
"What you've done is that you're helping others have a great holiday," Austin said. "There are just not enough words to say thank you for that kind of a kindness that you're doing for other people. So please just accept it from me, all of my staff, and all the Soldiers and to all of the Soldiers and Families you're going to help through the holidays and even throughout January. So thank you very much."
Chris Casa Santa, Lincoln Elementary School's guidance counselor, said the student council decided on doing a food drive. As he helped organize the event Casa Santa spoke to his colleagues at the school about it and he said no one remembers Lincoln Elementary having a food drive in the past. According to Casa Santa, the first food drive in recent memory turned out fantastic.
"When I'm working with the children, I'm always trying to emphasize to their classes the importance of outreach to others," Casa Santa said. He explained "reaching out and helping others" to the students but wanted them to see the big picture and see where their donations go.
After setting a goal of collecting 425 cans of food, he said the students promoted the food drive to ensure its success. The student council made posters that they hung around the school and the school's video club helped out with the marketing campaign. They had a student from the video club standing in front of the cans of food to encourage all of the students to donate.
Casa Santa is proud of his students' efforts to surpass their goal for the food drive.
"It shows they are really concerned about others and they thought it would be a good project," Casa Santa said.
"As it got closer to the goal, the kids got excited about it and it picked up."
Austin also was impressed by the success of the Lincoln Elementary School food drive.
He said the students demonstrated leadership and were taking care of people and treating them as a part of the big Fort Campbell Family.
"When I saw the amount of food that they had it was just very humbling and overwhelming," Austin said.
"To know what these children have done to make other people's lives better, there is a great teaching lesson in that. I just couldn't imagine the quantity. Those cans represent every child, every Family, at this school participating."