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The 16th Annual Christmas canned goods drive for HOPE in Lancaster at Carolina Christian Academy started the last week of November and ended Dec. 19, with the school’s efforts netting 3,545 cans delivered to HOPE that morning.
With the addition of other items donated besides canned goods, such as boxes of ramen noodles, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, Jell-O and pasta, the total number of items delivered was close to 7,000.
“It was just amazing what they brought and how they helped us unload it and get it inside,” said HOPE Executive Director Elaine Adkins. “This is really going to help us restock our shelves. They brought a lot of things that we were short on, and brought some things that we didn’t even have one can of. There have been more requests for help with food this year, and this is a tremendous blessing to replenish our stock.”
Nichole Ellis’ third-grade class collected the most cans, 1,316, and won a pizza party for its efforts. Crystal Stevens’ first-grade class came in second place with 486 cans and Tonya Counts’ fourth-grade class came in third place with 461. Each of these three classes has fewer than 20 students, and Ellis’ class only has 13.
“The students were very excited to do this,” Ellis said. “We talked about how this was going to help the community, and how that was more important than the competition between classes to win the pizza party. I think they understood how important it was to help those less fortunate.”
“This is very exciting, and I think this is probably the most cans I’ve seen collected in my 13 years here,” Counts said. “My own kids and I volunteered at HOPE this summer, and I know that they were really running low on a lot of things, so I am so glad to see this kind of response.”
CCA caretaker Stanley Seegars did his part, too, calling on friends and family members outside the school to help out the cause.
“We just wanted to make sure we got as many donations as we could get for something so important,” he said.
The school has a two-fold purpose in the food drive. One is to teach students to care about the less fortunate, and the second is to teach students to be community-minded and help worthy community organizations like HOPE.
“We often hear the expression ‘giving back to the community’ and we’re always happy when we see individuals or groups doing just that,” said Dr. Huey Mills, CCA administrator.
“That mindset is very much the mindset here at CCA. When we built this school in 1996, businesses, individuals and churches in this community equipped all but a few rooms. And without widespread community support, we could not have survived these 17 years. Our annual canned food drive for HOPE is just one of the many ways it is our joy and delight to give something back and to do so in a manner that it helps those who are truly in need,” he said.
“I’m so proud of CCA and what they do,” Adkins said. “It was unreal, the volume they brought in from a group that size, and it just doesn’t happen like that every day. And those who came out here and helped get it all in to us, they were so excited and enjoying it. I want them to know that they really have made a difference by doing this. And what we love to see most is the excitement they displayed Wednesday (Dec.19) – we love to see people giving from their heart.”