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Hewlett-Woodmere and Lawrence schools kick off holiday food drives

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With the holiday season fast approaching, both of the public-school districts in the Five Towns are revving up their food donation efforts into full gear.

“The Woodmere Middle School Student Council is holding a canned food drive starting now through the entire holiday season,” Hewlett-Woodmere School District spokeswoman Barbara Giese said. “They participate every year and donate to Long Island Cares. Last year, they donated several hundred cans.”

Hauppauge-based Long Island Cares is a nonprofit that joins together all available resources to benefit the hungry and food unsecure population in Nassau and Suffolk counties. The organization also sponsors programs that aim to help families achieve self-sufficiency and educate people on the causes and consequences of hunger.

Hewlett Elementary School is running a food drive that ends on Nov. 22, six days before Thanksgiving. “On that day, a representative from Angela’s House will join the school to receive all the items from Student Council,” Giese said. Angela’s House assists families caring for medically frail children living at home with their parents or in special homes that offer 24-hour nursing support.

The Franklin Early Childhood Center off its annual drive on Nov. 4, it runs until Nov. 20. All donations will go to the Cedarhurst-based Rock and Wrap It Up! Organization founder Syd Mandelbaum commented on the efforts so far. “Everyone with the school has been active with donations so far,” Mandelbaum said. “It’s always great to work with the Hewlett-Woodmere School District.” Rock and Wrap It Up! was founded by Mandelbaum in 1994. It is a nonprofit food-recovery organization and poverty think tank.

At Ogden Elementary School, the student council will host its first-ever turkey trot on Nov. 27. To take part, students need to donate $1 and participants can wear their favorite sports team apparel. The proceeds will benefit the Hempstead-based Interfaith Nutrition Network. Known as the INN, the group addresses hunger and homelessness on Long Island.

At Lawrence Middle School, English teacher Lisa King has been helping run the school’s food drive for the past 27 years. “The team of teachers I used to be on, had the food drive in place before I came to the district,” King said. “I’ve continued doing it ever since, as the need for a food drive like this keeps on growing.” She estimated that the food drive helps feed roughly upwards of 60 families per year, and that she starts notifying others about the drive in mid-October. 

King is asking for specific goods such as: boxed mashed potatoes, canned yams, mini marshmallows, canned corn, green beans, canned cranberry sauce, box of tea, beverage, cake mix and a box of stuffing. The items can be dropped off at the security desk in the middle school.

In addition to helping to feed people in need, King underscored the food drive’s educational component for the students. “I just love participating in community service,” she said. “I also love seeing the students get involved in the efforts. It teaches them not only the importance of helping others, but also the importance of working together.”