FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Aaron and Delilah Alaniz, along with about 10 other members of Barsanti Elementary School’s student government, are working hard to get the word out about the school’s annual canned food drive.
Students will collect cans for the drive through Dec. 10. This year’s goal is to collect 850 cans, or about two cans per student attending school in-person this semester, said Chris Casa Santa, guidance counselor at Barsanti.
All collected items will be donated to Fort Campbell Chaplain and Ministry Services to stock the chapel pantries.
Delilah, fourth grade, said the drive is a schoolwide effort.
“Sometimes it’s even more harder to just do it by yourself,” she said. “Sometimes, you need an entire community to help you by bringing in some cans so you can help other people.”
There are a few different ways people can make donations to the drive.
“We are going to put a basket outside where the car riders and walkers are and they can place cans in there,” she said. “At the end of the day we can pick up the cans and bring them inside.”
Cans also can be sent to school in students’ backpacks.
“Whenever they get to school, the students can give the cans to the teacher,” Delilah said. “Then the teacher can give the cans to Mr. C or another can collector.”
Student government members also will collect any cans that are left stacked outside classrooms daily.
To spread the word, the team collaborated with the school’s video club to make an information video about the drive.
“In student government we also made posters about the canned food drive and we are hanging them up around the school,” Delilah said. “Hopefully people see it. Especially the parents and they can say ‘Oh, we can help them’ and bring in some cans.”
Delilah said donations are already beginning to trickle in.
“We are checking those things, organizing them and making sure everything is good,” she said.
Casa Santa said the students need everyone’s help to make this drive a success.
“We do this to help the people who need it, because there are people struggling out there right now,” said Aaron, fifth grade. “We are donating cans of food to the chapel to help feed people.”
Aaron said there are plenty of reasons people should make a donation, including the way it makes them feel.
“Helping with the canned food drive makes me feel better about myself,” he said. “When we are helping people … one day people will help you.”
People helping people is at the heart of the canned food drive, Casa Santa said.
“There are some people who lost their jobs with COVID-19, not the Soldiers, but there are other people who did and all of a sudden they don’t have any money to buy food,” he said. “That wasn’t planned.”
It is important to help others when we can, because no one knows what the future holds, Casa Santa said.
“We never know when we are really going to be in need. We never know what could happen,” he said. “By doing good, we are helping out so maybe the favor will be returned when we need it.”
Barsanti has a history of exceeding their collection goal. In 2016, 1,000 cans were collected when the goal was 750. The following year, students collected 1,130 cans, surpassing their goal of 850. While the goal of 850 cans remains it was surpassed in 2018 with about 1,000 cans collected and with 1,100 cans collected in 2019. Casa Santa is hopeful students will be able to keep the streak alive despite the hurdles COVID-19 has presented.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, all donations will be quarantined at the school before being distributed, he said.
Robert Battey, Barsanti assistant principal, said the canned food drive is necessary to combat the hardships Families are facing during this unique year.
“Families are probably struggling financially more this year than they have in the past,” Battey said. “I can imagine that food insecurity goes hand-in-hand with that. Families who are struggling to pay their bills also struggle to put food on the table.”
The canned food drive is one way the school community is working to alleviate stress on Families. Barsanti is proud to contribute to the Fort Campbell community and serve Soldiers and their Families, Battey said.
“Students recognize they are part of a community and part of that responsibility is helping our neighbors in times of need,” he said.
The greatest lesson students can learn is the impact they can have on their community, he said.
“They can be a change for the positive,” Battey said. “Even though it might just be a can of soup or can of beans, and it seems small, it becomes bigger. One can becomes 850 cans.”