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Pocatello elementary students help feed the hungry

The Idaho Foodbank in the eastern part of the state is seeing more food and turkeys than it had expected this year, and many of those donations are pouring in from an elementary school.

The Pocatello school has been working hard collecting donations as well in order to give back to the food bank that has provided food for many of its student’s families in the past.

“The goal was 6,000 pounds and this year the kids raised 12,028,” Lewis and Clark Elementary School Principal Evelyn Robinson said. “So, they doubled their goal. That’s the second highest that we’ve ever had in our history.”

Robinson said every single child had donated something this year during the school’s 12th annual food drive.

The interesting testament to the school’s giving spirit, is the fact that Lewis and Clark is situated in an area with a 78 percent poverty rate.

Robinson recalls a former kindergartener who wanted to donate an item to what they call their “giving tree” despite her family’s low income.

“She came back with this little paper angel and she said to me, ‘Ms. Robinson, we don’t have any cans that I can bring from home. Mom says we need them. I wanted to give something to our tree, so I brought a paper angel,'” Robinson said.

To this day, that same paper angel sits on top of the annual giving tree in the school’s front entrance.

Representatives from the Idaho Foodbank say they have also seen the effects of a tough economy, but the community still found a way to donate.

“It’s been tough,” Idaho Foodbank Program Specialist Merriann Forrest said. “We’ve seen a big drop in food donations but it still is always working out. There’s always food to give out.”

Despite this dip in numbers, Forrest said they have already exceeded their goal of collecting 2,000 turkeys. This month alone, they gave away more than 3,000 turkeys and 250,000 pounds of food.

With Lewis and Clark’s donations trucking in Friday, the food bank might be looking at those higher numbers this season after all.

Forrest said food stamps have been decreased from $350 per month down to $130, and this has left a lot of families hungry. She said there are more than 90,000 kids in Idaho under the age of 19 who are considered to be chronically hungry. Out of those kids, 23,000 are under the age of 5.

Robinson said it warms her heart knowing a lot of these kids who will be needing to collect food from the food bank this year have been donating. She said there are some things you can not teach in school, but her students are learning what it means for good deeds to run full-circle.

“You help take care of one another and there may be that opportunity when you need help. There may be somebody there for you or something will come back to you in a real positive way as well,” Robinson said.

Friday is the last day the Idaho Foodbank will be counting-up the holiday donations going out to hungry families as part of its Christmas campaign. It will stop counting at 3 p.m.

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