Most students at Abbett Elementary know what its like to have financial struggles.
But they proved their eagerness to help others during a food drive.
Abbett, where about 90 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, recently won a local food-drive competition organized by area letter carriers. The students collected 1,500 pounds of food – more than any other elementary school in Fort Wayne Community Schools.
During a ceremony Wednesday, letter carriers, United Way employees and staff members of Mayor Tom Henry thanked Abbett students for their efforts. They also urged the community to participate in Saturdays 18th annual National Association of Letter Carriers National Food Drive, which the group says is the largest one-day food drive in the country.
Im really glad to be given the chance to be givers, Abbett Principal Robin Peterman said. For the kids to feel like theyre contributing, like theyre giving back – its just wonderful.
The local school food drive, now in its third year, is meant to spread the word about the national drive, said Milton Gray, area chairman of the letter carriers food drive.
Each year, he said, letter carriers nationwide pick up dry goods, paper towels, toilet paper, canned foods and other items along their routes. Residents are asked to put their donations into bags by their mailboxes. Local carriers then take the items to Associated Churches, which distributes the food to food banks.
Last year, Gray said, northeast Indiana donated 453,513 pounds of food, more than any other community its size. In 2009, the national drive broke a record by collecting 73.4 million pounds of food.
About 1,400 branches of the Postal Service participate in the event, which is sponsored by many groups including Campbell Soup Co., Feeding America and United Way.
In the Abbett food drive, students in pre-kindergarten won first place and third-graders won second place. As a result of the win, the school was given a large trophy Peterman hopes to display in the lobby.
It was pretty exciting, said fifth-grader Cynthia Romero, 11. Abbett feels proud of our work to help other people.