Officer Brandon Moore, student D. King and Anthony Allen of the school’s crisis support team (from left) helped out with Newport Academy’s food drive that benefited Virginia Peninsula Community College. (Photo courtesy of Newport Academy)
Many elementary, middle and high schools mark the 100th day of the academic year with a special event, often tying the milestone into their curriculum. At Newport Academy in Newport News, the administration came up with the idea of tying community service into the celebration.
Last year, the school solicited donations for an area food bank. This year, the school made a donation of 291 items to Virginia Peninsula Community College’s Care Team Cupboard.
Desirae Gass, a teacher specialist at Newport Academy, saw a flyer for the College’s food pantry when she was on campus to register her daughter for classes.
“That’s when I reached out to the director over there to see if that was OK to donate,” Gass said.
Gass was surprised by the amount of the donations because many of Newport Academy’s families also are in need.
“Some of our families that donated the most were families that have gone through a period this school year where they needed extra help,” she said.
The school has more than 50 students along with 30 staff members, and donations came for both groups.
“We had a big donation from one of the paraprofessionals,” Gass said. “Her church donated Ramen noodles and things of that nature that we know college students like, something easy to cook.”
There also was a lot of peanut butter and jelly, canned vegetables, rice, and quick and easy one-pot meals.
This was just the second year of the event, but Gass thinks it’s here to last.
“It’s definitely something we want to continue and make an annual tradition,” she said.
There has been talk of doing two drives a year, with the second one right before school lets out for the summer.
“We know there are a lot of families in the summertime, with the students being out of school, that need extra food,” she said.
Events such as this help students do more than just learn about character, community and empathy.
“Doing community service is one of the best ways for them to put it in practice so they can see it’s not just about receiving, but also giving,” Gass said.
For more information on Newport Academy, visit https://nhrec.org/newport-academy/information/.For information on the College’s Care Team Cupboard, go to https://www.vpcc.edu/services/community-resources/index.html.