KCHS students participate in holiday food drive
Kemper County High School career and technical education students recently collected various foods and canned goods for a Thanksgiving food drive, which provided seven local families in need with a full traditional meal during the holiday.
The drive, which accumulated goods from Oct. 1 – Nov. 14, was sponsored by Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), Future Farmers of America (FFA), Skills USA, Educators Rising, and National Technical Honor Society (NTHS).
Ochsner Rush Health in Meridian also contributed by donating numerous items.
Items donated included turkey, green beans, canned collards, canned corn, canned sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, canned cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, jiffy mix, cake mix and frosting, brown sugar, canned sweet peas, and cooking oils. The goods were delivered to families on Friday, Nov. 18.
Health science instructor Sherry Clemons, who originally started the drive, said the drive began nearly five years ago as a community service opportunity for health science students, but other CTE programs joined in on the initiative last year after seeing its positive effect.
“Since we are a small community, instead of doing the traditional food drive where we take all canned goods and non-perishable items to food banks in other counties, we got with our local Department of Human Services and got them to help us find some families who are in need,” said Clemons. “A lot of times you can have two people working in a household who make just enough to where they can’t receive government assistance but do not have enough to pay bills and buy groceries.”
The school allowed DHS to select the families in need, and then students provided a full Thanksgiving meal to those families.
“We started out the first year with only four (families). It just depends on how many students I have with how many families we try to select because the students are the ones who donated the supplies,” said Clemons. “We provide the full Thanksgiving meal to those families with everything they would need — from turkeys down to the Jiffy mix.”
Clemons said students began understanding the importance of donating to those in need after she explained that anyone could be in that situation.
“For first-year students, you have to get them to buy in and see the meaning of it because a lot of them don’t understand. Like I told them, you never know who is in need, and it could be your family next time. You just never know,” said Clemons. “Once they realized what we needed, they brought them in with no problem. The kids were even the ones who got the boxes together and sorted them out to make sure each box had what needed to be in there.”
Clemons said she is honored to lead the Thanksgiving food drive each year, and she hopes to see it continue to grow.
“Everyone is not as fortunate as others, and there is always someone in need,” she said. “I just want the students to see what it’s like to actually be the ones to reach out and help others.”