Spirit of giving: 5,352 items collected for needy families

Published 4:20 am Thursday, November 24, 2022

During the first two weeks of November, students at Bishop Noland Episcopal Day School gathered canned food and dry goods for their annual school-wide Thanksgiving food drive contest.

Out of the 7,488 total food items that were collected, the school’s fourth-grade classes collected 5,352 of the items. This is the third year the fourth-grade classes have won the food drive contest, said Gage Gardner, a fourth-grade teacher. “My students were very invested in this food drive,” she said.

Gardner believes it is important to instill the spirit of competition in her students.

Email newsletter signup

“I believe that being competitive for a cause helps teach our kids the importance of healthy competition and the positive aspects of competing,” she said. “We were ‘competitive for a cause’ this year for our food drive.”

She continued by explaining the benefits her students have experienced after the drive.

“They have a sense of pride and accomplishment by donating a large portion of the food for this drive,” she said. “This also opened up the conversation into other ways we can all help our community no matter how big or small.”

She said it is vital to teach students to participate in charity.

“Giving back to those in need is a vital part of our culture at Bishop Noland,” she explained. “As our Head of School, Mother Boo Kay says often, ‘We are the hands and feet of God.’ ”

The importance of teaching our students to give back is to instill a sense of compassion and empathy.”

All students were encouraged to participate in the drive, and most did, she said.

Students collected food items in many ways.

“Many students and families purchased food themselves, but one of my students worked with his neighborhood by collecting canned food from neighbors,” she explained. “Another student used his allowance to buy canned food for our drive.”

Gardner said the food is distributed to whoever is in need. Many of the items are used in their Little Free Pantry that is located in Downtown Lake Charles. To ensure the pantry stays full, the students have set up a rotating restock schedule.

This will not be the end of Bishop Noland School’s charitable seasonal activities, said Gardner. Annually, each grade participates in a service-learning project, such as Blessings Bags or Operation Christmas Child. In December her students will collaborate to create fleece blankets to give to children in the foster care system through the Family and Youth Counseling Agency in Lake Charles. They are calling the project Kids Helping Kids.