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Learning to Care and Give

Anne Arundel students harvest 165,000 pounds of food for the hungry

Katie Asher and her Davidsonville Elementary School classmates have been collecting non-perishable food in the Harvest for the Hungry Campaign

Six-year-old Katie Asher is just beginning to understand the meaning of caring and giving. Every morning she drops a can of food into the collection boxes at Davidsonville Elementary, where she is a first-grader.
    “We’re giving food to the poor people,” she says.
    Fifth graders like 10-year-old schoolmate Julia Cobb are understanding that not everyone has as much as they do, so they should share with people who have less.
    “It feels great to bring in food. It’s one of the best things we do,” says Cobb, who was elected student government president on a platform of having “the best Harvest for the Hungry Campaign ever.”
    By high school, students embrace the values of empathy, giving and volunteerism. Students who help to drive the Harvest Campaign at South River High School make teacher Wes Baker proud.
    On display in the school lobby is a food-can sculpture built by 16-year-old junior Tina Depietro. “We wanted to encourage other people in the school to help out with the food drive,” she explains.

South River High School teacher Wes Baker and students like Amelia Williams and Tina Depietro have helped make the school the leader in the Harvest campaign for 10 years running.

    It’s working. South River High School has been the state leader in the Harvest for the Hungry Campaign for the last 10 years.
    A statewide program, Harvest for the Hungry is sponsored by the Maryland State Department of Education and the Maryland Food Bank. Its dual purposes are collecting resources for people in need while instilling the values of giving, caring and community in our students. The campaign is statewide, but all food and money collected locally stays in the area.
    Davidsonville is a perpetual state leader for elementary schools. In 2012, the school collected 4,378 pounds of food and $9,678 in donations.
    “My goal is to get the kids involved,” says music teacher Suzy Wyatt of Davidsonville Elementary. The brochure for parents, Kids Helping Kids, drives that point home.
    For the school, there’s more to the program than collecting food. “We teach valuable lessons with the Harvest for the Hungry Campaign, with a focus on building the character traits of caring and giving,” guidance counselor Colleen Isett says.
    The goal for this year, for each school and for the county as a whole, is to match the 2012 numbers, 165,000 pounds of food and $115,000. The school system has one new weapon in its arsenal: a partnership with the State Employees Credit Union. Go to the SECU Facebook page (search SECU Maryland) and click the like button. The credit union donates $5 for each like.
    likes have raised more than $6,000. With every dollar translating to eight pounds of food, these likes will translate to 48,000 pounds of provisions for those in need.
    Join thousands of kids in adding food and dollars to the total. Add your like before Harvest for the Hungry ends on November 3.