PPS Students making a BIG differenceBy COLIN CAMERON,
Students at Petal Primary School may be small, but they are making a big difference in the community. PPS students and faculty are collecting canned goods and boxed food items to donate to the Petal Children’s Task Force for their “Box It Up” food drive.
While the “Box It Up” food drive is an annual tradition at PPS, Assistant Principal Ashley Harvey explained the school collects a different type of item to donate once every nine weeks throughout the school year.
“Periodically throughout the year, we like to do service projects to donate to this organization,” Harvey said.
Formed in 1989 by Petal residents Demaris Lee and the late Jessie Rowell, the Petal Children’s Task Force provides food assistance to anyone in the Petal area. According to the organization’s website, the Petal Children’s Task Force serves all people in the community, including those who do not have children in the Petal School District.
Lee, now serving as the organization’s executive director, said that they turn over food in the facilities very quickly. She explained that these students’ donations are essential to keep enough food on the shelves for the families that need it.
“We provide food for around 350 to 400 families each month,” Lee said. “Without the school helping us, we would not have the necessary resources to help them.”
“(The students) might not realize the impact they are making now, but they really are making a huge difference,” Lee added.
While the food item donations to the Petal Children’s Task Force positively impact people from all over the community, Harvey said that a large number of PPS students and their families do benefit from the donations as well.
“We have a high number of students at our school that receive free and reduced lunches,” Harvey said. “We know that if they are on free and reduced lunch there is a possibility that they could really benefit from this food.”
Additionally, benefits like the ‘Box It Up Food Drive’ are also excellent opportunities to teach students the value of servant leadership.
Harvey explained that a number of students actually serve on a student leadership team throughout the service project. These students are given a variety of important duties throughout the collection process and, as a result, learn about what it means to help their neighbors.
“We like to teach our kids to be good stewards and to pay if forward in ways in which they can,” Harvey said.