Ravenswood Grade students donate generously to fight hunger in the community

Suzette Lowe
Over 3,400 non-perishable food items were donated to the local pantry.

Each year, West Virginia University at Parkersburg requires its student teachers to complete a project that benefits the community in which they are placed.

For Ravenswood Grade student teacher Shane Johnson, it was an easy choice.

“Collecting food for the No Hunger Food Pantry seemed like it would benefit the most people in need,” Johnson said.

Johnson wanted to involve the entire school in the project, not just his fourth-grade classroom.

“The first day we had 150 cans donated, the second 300 items,” he said. “I realized that we needed to spur on the competition a bit more.”

Offering a pizza party to the class that brought in the most food and extra recess to second and third place made students even more eager to donate.

“The third and fourth days saw a total of almost 2,000 donations,” Johnson said.

A particular student stood out in the campaign.

“One of my students brought in 120 cans all by himself,” said Johnson. “He went home and had his mom take him to Walmart where he spent all his Christmas and birthday money to buy food. And he didn’t stop there. He called all his family and brought in 96 more items.”

When the competition ended, Johnson’s classroom came in second place, with Mrs. Hood’s third-grade class coming in third.

“The other fourth-grade class came in first place,” he said. “Mrs. Wine’s kids brought in 18 more cans than mine and Mrs. Scritchfield’s did.”

Those 18 cans saved the student teacher a ‘new look’.

“I had promised if our class won, they could shave off my hair and beard,” Johnson said with a laugh. ‘I think they were a little disappointed.”

Student teacher Shane Johnson and No Hunger Food Pantry volunteers unload one of two pickup trucks full of food.

When the week-long campaign ended, Johnson and five other teachers loaded two pickup trucks and an SUV to make the delivery to No Hunger Food Pantry.

The staff and volunteers at the local pantry were astounded by the students’ generosity.

A note that Johnson received thanking the students said, in part, “Your food drive was so successful and our hearts, as well as our clients, are overwhelmed with such pride, joy and awe of what your school did. Be proud of yourselves and your accomplishments but mostly thank you for your caring hearts in helping individuals and families that need a little help.”

Johnson said that this donation was one of the biggest the pantry had ever received.

One of the longest-lasting benefits is the connection the school and the pantry now have.

“They want to be part of school activities going forward,” Johnson said. “So hopefully this partnership will continue on for years.”

Johnson’s tenure at the school will be ending soon.

“My student teaching will be over, but I hope to get a job soon because I have loved every minute of working with Mrs. Scritchfield and these kids,” he stated. “And I’ll be back. I’m coordinating the June field day and No Hunger Food Pantry wants to help.”