By MEGAN MOSELEY
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Two Waimea food pantries will be giving thanks to Parker Schools this holiday season.
On Wednesday, Parker High School’s student council donated more than four tons of food to the Annunciation Church and the Kokua Christian Ministry’s food pantry as part of its second annual Ohana Canned Food Drive fundraiser.
According to Headmaster Dr. Carl Sturges, students are expected to complete various community-service projects throughout the school year, but the success of their latest initiative, the Ohana Canned Food Drive, is bringing their altruistic ideals to new heights.
Staff members are planning to make the fundraiser a tradition, a tradition that aims to teach current and future students that a little bit of teamwork goes a long way.
“I wanted kids to experience that if you work with a bunch of other people, it’s really quite amazing what you can do,” he said.
In the past, Sturges said students would do fundraising and philanthropic work with various organizations around the world. Since the development of the Ohana Canned Food Drive, students are learning they don’t have to look far to offer a helping hand.
“We wanted the students to be aware of what’s going on right here, right here on the island and in this town,” he said. “When a few students approached me with the idea, I thought, ‘OK this is a great opportunity to have us help our kids to understand that they don’t have to go very far to find people who are malnourished.’”
Last year, Parker Schools collected nearly five tons of canned goods, totaling about 9,596 pounds of food, or, as Parker High senior Emily Whitefield put it, enough to fill up several pick-up trucks.
“We had, like, six pick-up trucks. We have a really cool picture taken from the roof of the school and we’re all sitting on the trucks or around the trucks and we’re sitting there and they’re just completely filled with food. It was so cool,” she said.
Gillian Culff, student council advisor at Parker High School, recalled the reaction of the volunteers at Church Row the day of donation.
“When we arrived last year, they said they had just served a huge meal. I don’t remember how many people they’d served, but basically they had emptied out their entire pantry and when we came in with all this food, they were thrilled,” she said.
The grade with the largest amount of donations will win a free zip-lining trip courtesy of Big Island Eco Adventures. The school raised donations through a variety of methods including collecting gift certificates used to buy cans from the local Costco, and by encouraging students to collect cans for a chance to win Starbucks gift cards during a school raffle.
Sturges said he looks forward to future Ohana Canned Food Drives and teaching students it’s “just the right thing to do.”
Email Megan Moseley at firstname.lastname@example.org.