Celeste Henkel Elementary School recently added a new feature that aims to keep the community from going hungry.
Members of the Celeste Henkel Parent Teacher Organization got permission to install a food pantry last week, and while it’s only been there for a few days, it’s definitely seeing some use.
“It’s not been empty a single time I’ve looked,” said PTO Vice President Tim Kendall. “But I can tell there’s been a changeover in product.”
The idea for a food pantry developed after a bunch of Zoom calls between PTO members.
“We eventually realized there are ways we can continue to serve our Celeste community while at home,” said Angela Ramsey, PTO president.
Celeste Henkel does fall into the category of a Title I school due to the percentage of students receiving free or reduced meals being higher than the district average. That means the school receives federal funding for various needs, but it also means a lot of students depend on going to the school for much of their daily nutrition.
Kendall said that seeing a lot of parents out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic isn’t helping to put food on tables either.
So the PTO reached out to the Lowe’s in Troutman, which donated a roughly 3-foot by 6-foot locker that now sits at the school with a variety of non-perishable food items, hygiene products and school supplies ready for the taking.
Right now the main goal is keeping the locker stocked.
Kendall and Ramsey have been thinking of creative ways to get people to donate, like taking a selfie at the locker each time they make a donation. Ramsey said she’s also been trying to rally people to drop off supplies on Facebook.
Both of them made it very clear they hope for the food pantry to be a resource for anyone in the community, not just Celeste Henkel students.
Ramsey says it can also be a teaching tool. She said it helps teach kids that living comfortably comes with the responsibility of helping those that are less fortunate. She also hopes the giving nature of the pantry will be a model of behavior.
“I hope (students) will look around, see a need and fill that need,” Ramsey said.
Kendall echoed that sentiment.
“We’re just continuing that environment of morals and character that hopefully our kids are coming (to school) with,” he said.
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