A first-time food drive competition between school systems fizzled, but the most important annual food drive in Lakota Local Schools reached a new record with a 33 percent jump in donations.
The food drive raised more than 27,000 pounds this year, up from approximately 18,000 in 2016.
“The 27,000-plus pounds raised by the (We Are Lakota drive) for the Stuff The Bus campaign will keep our shelves packed well into the New Year,” said Peyton Gravely, director of fund raising for Reach Out Lakota, sponsor of the annual food donation campaign.
Donations were stored in Lakota school buses, with donors filling three of the vehicles.
“This has been the most successful event yet and, on behalf of Reach Out Lakota, we commend the entire Lakota community for your bountiful efforts,” said Gravely.
The decade-old food drive used to be held solely within Lakota Schools, primarily between Lakota East and Lakota West high schools.
First-year Lakota Superintendent Matt Miller arranged for a competition among Lakota, Hamilton and nearby Mason Schools in Warren County.
But Gravely said donation totals from those two districts remain unavailable.
The annual food drive coordinated by Reach Out Lakota is the largest campaign to feed needy families in West Chester and Liberty townships each year.
The drive in Lakota Schools started with the Sept. 29 Lakota East and West football game and ran through Oct. 25.
Gravely has previously told the Journal-News “hunger is a real issue in West Chester and Liberty townships.”
“A large amount of our growing community stems from the wonderful local school district and the growing industry in our area. Many of our clients have moved to West Chester and Liberty townships to offer their children an opportunity for a great education, without having gainful employment,” he said.
Miller said of this year’s drive: “I’m blown away at the generosity of our community.”
“What a great display of the immense impact we can have when we all come together for a common cause. Our partnership with Reach Out Lakota is critically important and this is a tradition I’m certain we’ll continue for many years to come,” said Miller.
This article contains additional reporting by contributing writer Lisa Knodel.