To be more precise, there were more than 175 Santas, all students from Richard O Jacobson Technical High School at Seminole, who decided to conduct a pet-food food drive between their Thanksgiving and winter holiday breaks. Within a week, they had exceeded their initial goal and had collected more than 200 cans of pet food.
Jasmin was one of the Tech High students who helped deliver the many boxes of donated pet food to the Beach Community Food Pantry on Indian Rocks Beach. “We started with the goal of 175, that’s the number of students in our school; but then we said “We can do better!”
The students chose a central location within the school for their collection site and charted their progress with a large thermometer graphic. As their combined efforts continued, the donations of pet food increased and the thermometer soared! Over 300 pet meals were delivered to the Beach Community Food Pantry, just in time for Christmas, thanks to the teamwork and dedication of those at Tech High.
“It’s a great thing to be able to see the joy and pride in a teenager’s face after giving a donation.” said Holly Roush. Ms Roush is a Student Council Advisor at Tech High and a drIving force who helped to make this food drive happen. Also an important link was former Family and Community Liaison for Tech High, Heather Swartz-Brewer. “We’re grateful for this partnership with the food pantry, our students are learning that there are people in our community who don’t have food.”
Because of Tech High’s Veterinary Assisting program, it seems a natural fit for those students to want to help with the feeding of animals. One of the parents assisting with the food drive, Angelique Stamp, said that all of the students at Tech High wanted to help “those most especially vulnerable, bringing joy and comfort to their lives.”
Brandon was another Tech High student on hand on the day of delivery. “We wanted to do something helpful” he said. “Not just as a class, but our whole school, everyone cares. The school offers such great opportunities, the teachers want you to succeed, there’s a real feeling of caring about others.”
Many of the people who come to the Beach Community Food Pantry have a dog or cat, and, struggling with their own need for food, these pet owners face a dilemna. Pets are family and they need to be fed as well. Hazel, a pantry patron explained “I’ve raised my child, now my cat is my home companion. And my tendency is to feed those depending on me. Sometimes we struggle.”
There’s no food stamp program for hungry pets. Safety nets for pets are not a national priority. Yet, since decades of research has proven the many ways in which our pets enrich our lives, we musn’t overlook the need for pet food in our food pantries.
As David Kline, Director of the Beach Community Food Pantry explained “We do not normally have access to donated pet food. This is a much needed resource for our clients and this donation will allow us to provide pet food for the near future.”
“We’re also grateful” said Ms Roush of Tech High. “Allowing our students this wonderful opportunity to give back this holiday season,” “These are teachable moments, real life lessons: be kind and giving.”
The Beach Community Food Pantry and countless pet owners send a resounding Thank You to the kind and giving students, faculty and staff at Tech High and to all who contributed to their heartfelt project.
Building on Tech High’s combined action and using their success as a springboard, the Beach Community Food Pantry is committed to increase their own efforts to secure additional pet products and partnerships. To help make a pawsitive difference, call 727-595-2374 or email firstname.lastname@example.org