Kendall Powers, Special to KP News

Fifth-grader Kendall Powers with some of the food donations. Photo: Alice Kinerk, KP News

Public schools throughout Gig Harbor and the Key Peninsula hosted a food drive to help stock the shelves of local food banks during the last week of April. The Greater Gig Harbor Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting residents in the area, organized the drive. Although the group had been doing a similar food drive in honor of National Make A Difference Day each fall, GGHF decided to run a second drive in the spring. 

According to Jud Morris, chair of the social capital committee for GGHF, the nonprofit is also involved with recreation, funding local arts, environmental protection and cleanup, as well as Gig Harbor’s outdoor-based Curious By Nature preschool.

Each participating school was given a large barrel to fill with donations. Flyers sent home with every student requested canned or other nonperishable items. At Minter Creek Elementary, the barrel was filled to overflowing within 24 hours. 

The food drive goals are ambitious, according to the GGHF website. “Annually, the project aims to support the provision of essential ingredients to provide some 2,300 area children and their families a nutritious weekend meal every weekend from Make A Difference Day in late October through the end of the school year—about 12,000 meals! To date, the project has raised foods and funds supporting about 14,500 meals!”

GGHF believes hungry children simply are unable to focus on learning, said Morris, and there are many children coming to Peninsula schools every day feeling hungry. Teachers at one school started buying breakfasts for students, spending money out of their own pockets. GGHF came up with a unique solution. Food gift cards were issued to these teachers. This way, instead of using their own money, teachers use the gift cards to buy food. 

After the food drive, all of the donations were distributed to Food Backpacks 4 Kids and Gig Harbor Fish Food Bank. Morris said these two organizations were chosen because they both provide food to the Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula areas. 

At the core of the GGHF food drive was the expectation that the donations are a hand up, not a handout. “When people get things,” Morris said, “there is this thing in the back of their mind of, ‘Well, how can I give back?’ It’s a human quality of wanting to give back.” The desire to give back to the community is important for a person’s self-respect, he said.

“Everyone can give, even if they too need food,” Morris said. He is philosophical about it, telling food bank recipients, “It’s just a loan. When you’re back on your feet, you find someone else that needs it and help them out.”

The donation barrels were given not only to the schools, but also to the Key Peninsula and Gig Harbor libraries, where they remain. 

Morris said that although there were some glitches, this year’s GGHF drive was a success and compelled organizers to run another drive next year.

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