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High schools rev up food drives

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’Tis the season for celebration, and Catholic high school students are doing their part to make sure everyone's plate is full. At St. Paul VI Catholic High School in Chantilly, students are continuing a decades-long tradition of collecting nonperishable goods for Food for Others, a food bank in Fairfax that serves people throughout Northern Virginia.

While the students brought in all kinds of food, certain days were dedicated to different items, such as oatmeal and mac and cheese, to go into Power Packs, or take-home meal kits for public school students who receive free or reduced-price lunches. By the end of the week, 22,675 pounds of food were collected. The drive, organized by the student government, is also a competition between the school’s advisories, homeroom-like groups of students from all grades.

“While the competition is huge for us, we try to drive home each afternoon how many meals (the students) provided,” said Katie Tinsley, director of student life. “We try to focus on service.” On Friday morning, she was proud to see the students lining up with their donations by the truck, not complaining about the rain or how long it was taking to process the abundance of food. “We see them strategizing for the game, and that's a part of it, but they know that they’re making a difference,” she said. 

Each November, Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington participates in “Turkey Blitz,” a two-week fundraiser to support the Thanksgiving efforts of the Gift of Peace home, operated by the Missionaries of Charity in Washington. 

Art teacher Joe Crivella spearheaded this event more than 20 years ago after he had an unexpected encounter with Mother Teresa of Kolkata in this area. He was moved by her presence and the humble work of her sisters who care for the ill and aged in Washington. With the support of then-principal Al Burch, the idea of a spare-change collection among religion classes took root.

Today, the school’s Keyettes Club helps spread the word about the Turkey Blitz on campus through religion classes. In addition to decorated collection jars in classrooms, an online option provides a convenient way for friends and family members to participate.

"I am always so humbled and impressed by the giving nature of our Bishop O'Connell students, families and faculty,” said Crivella. “Every Thanksgiving without fail, we are able to raise enough funds to properly assist the Missionaries of Charity in this work.”


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021