Paul VI students show ‘can-do’ attitude to fight hunger

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To help serve the thousands of families who go hungry every year in Fairfax County, students at Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax recently hosted the annual canned food drive in support of Food for Others, an organization dedicated to forwarding free food donations to local families in need.

"I love being a part of the canned food drive because I know I'm making an impact on other's lives," said junior Andrea Mueller.

This year's drive collected 56,286 cans and other boxed good donations to Food for Others in Fairfax, an increase from last year's 48,794 donations. According to Student Life Director Katie Tinsley, the number of cans donated this year is enough food to stock Food for Others' pantry for up to a year.

Since its start in the 1990s, the canned food drive also promotes leadership and team building within the school according to junior Caroline Urlwin.

"My advisory always sets a goal and sets a minimum price limit on how much money each person should bring in," said Urlwin. "We especially work to get involved and let students know how important it is, and it's worked every year."

Student government representatives were outside the school every morning during the week of the canned food drive to receive donations as students arrived in the carpool line.

"While it brings out our school spirit through the advisory competition, the canned food drive demonstrates how service-oriented our students are," said Tinsley.

Members of student government recently toured the Food for Others facility. They saw the few shelves of cans where leftovers from last year's canned food drive were stored - an indication of just how important donations are to the organization.

"Food for Others is extremely grateful for all the PVI community does for them," said Eileen Hanley, assistant principal for admissions and student life. "They are continually overwhelmed."

Hanley said that Paul VI students also support the "Backpack Program" that provides food for elementary school children who are on the FARM program, a federal government initiative that provides free breakfast and lunch for school-age children during the school day.

The success of both service projects was the result of the community "bonding and working together with the common goal of helping others," said Hanley.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015