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Roosevelt students, staff engaged in food, clothing donation drive

Kylie Rudolph, 11, a fifth-grade student at Roosevelt Elementary School, along with her mother, have been managers of the school clothing drive. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR — There’s some trash-talking going on at Roosevelt Elementary School in Willmar this month, and it hasn’t been just the kids.

Today marks the end of a food drive that has turned into a friendly competition. The classroom which donates the most food items wins a party attended by Principal James Hill.

The school is also collecting donations of new or gently used winter clothing through Dec. 20, when the two-week Christmas break begins.

There’s no competition on the clothing drive, but a large box in the school’s entry has been filled many times over, said child guide Heidi Burton. The clothing will be stored at Jefferson Learning Center and will be distributed by the child guides to kids who need it.

The food will be donated to the Willmar Area Food Shelf, and the clothing will be distributed by the district’s child guides to children who need it.

There’s a poster in the building’s main entrance that shows the food tally for each classroom, and it’s likely to change quite a bit before the contest is over and the winner announced Monday morning, said school worker Tiffany Johnson.

It seems that some of the teachers with coaching backgrounds have come-from-behind strategies, she said.

For example, one class had 120 items waiting for pickup Thursday afternoon. That was reported by high school junior Brady Laumer, who is volunteering with the program through his youth service class.

“The kids are excited,” Johnson said. “The teachers are talking about it in the teachers’ lounge.” Parents ask about it and stop to look at the classroom tallies in the entry.

Roosevelt has not had a food drive in the three years she’s been at the school, Johnson said, and she decided to start one this year.

“I thought it would be good for the kids,” Johnson said. “Kids like to help.”

Some kids have told her that they couldn’t bring food to the school because their families use the food shelf and don’t have extra to spare. She tells them that they are giving by helping collect the food.

Every donation, large or small, is greeted with great appreciation, the organizers said, because each item represents some level of sacrifice by a family.

The original plan was to have Brady pick up food from boxes in the classrooms every other day, but the boxes have been filling every day. As of Wednesday afternoon, a total of 1,976 food items had been donated.

“It’s a lot of food,” he said. He’s been a popular fixture in the classrooms each day, and all the kids know his name. He was once a student at Roosevelt, and most of his old teachers are still there, too.

Brady said he believes his involvement with the food drive has been a good experience and believes he’ll be volunteering more in the future.

“It’s been so exciting for everybody here,” Johnson said.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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