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PHCC class collects 3,000 food items
Donations go to needy children
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Members of Professor Joe Gravely’s health care technician class at Patrick Henry Community College show food items they recently gathered for the Community Storehouse’s Food For Kids School Backpack program. (Contributed photo)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Students in a health care technician class at Patrick Henry Community College donated more than 3,000 food items, which will go to the Community Storehouse’s Food For Kids School Backpack program.

Also, the class recently received a $1,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation’s Local Community Contribution/Hunger Outreach Grant Program. That money also will help the backpack program.

The food drive was part of a class taught by Joe Gravely, PHCC’s associate professor of nursing, who requires his classes to perform one community fundraiser each semester. The food and the $1,000 were donated to Horsepasture Christian Church, which, in turn, gave them to the Community Storehouse. The Horsepasture Christian Church also donated 39 new backpacks to the program.

“I believe we must develop an attitude of ‘pay it forward.’ I want my students to understand what it means to be guardians of those who are ill or less fortunate,” Gravely said. “This group of students was extremely dedicated toward making a difference. This has probably been the most successful community project to date. I am very proud of my students.”

The Food for Kids program distributes backpacks filled with child-friendly, nutritious food to area students living in “food-insecure” households to help ensure that sure no child goes hungry over weekends and school breaks.

The project at PHCC was spearheaded by nursing students Betty St. Clair, Tara Bowman and Leone Hawkins, all of Martinsville.

The students set up donation booths at Dollar General, Kmart and Walmart as part of the effort. Shoppers were asked to donate food items or cash for the backpack program.

Bowman said the program was an easy choice as this class’ community fundraiser.

“We know there are kids out there who don’t get food when they go home on the weekends,” she said. “I think the (community fundraiser project) is a great idea. If you’re going to be a nurse and care for other people, you should care about the community you live in and its children.”

The students volunteered more than 50 hours staffing the donation booths. They received more than 2,000 food items, such as peanut butter, soup, fruit juice, fruit, sugar-free cereal and tuna fish. They also received more than $900 in cash donations from area residents, which they used to buy additional food items.

St. Clair said she was impressed by the way her classmates bought into the project. “Everyone was pitching in and trying to help,” she added.

The students also got overwhelmingly positive feedback from shoppers.

“One lady started crying,” said Bowman. “She said her grandkid was in the program, and he didn’t have food for the weekend when his backpack was empty.”


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