Food pantry, school officials happy about ‘Stuff The Bus’ campaign results at Lakota

It's looking like another overflowing year of generosity as Lakota school officials report a possible record number of collections so for the school system's annual "Stuff The Bus" food drive campaign. The donation drive benefits Reach Out Lakota, which serves needy families in West Chester and Liberty townships from which Lakota draws its 17,000 students. File photo shows a previous year's stuffed bus with superintendents from Middletown, Hamilton and Lakota representing their friendly rivalry of each district collecting donations for their respective community food pantries. (Provided Photo/Journal-News)
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It's looking like another overflowing year of generosity as Lakota school officials report a possible record number of collections so for the school system's annual "Stuff The Bus" food drive campaign. The donation drive benefits Reach Out Lakota, which serves needy families in West Chester and Liberty townships from which Lakota draws its 17,000 students. File photo shows a previous year's stuffed bus with superintendents from Middletown, Hamilton and Lakota representing their friendly rivalry of each district collecting donations for their respective community food pantries. (Provided Photo/Journal-News)

Last year’s count already exceeded, with 7 schools’ final tallies still to be reported, Lakota spokeswoman says.

It’s the only time each year Lakota school officials are happy about an over-crowded school bus.

The district’s annual “Stuff The Bus” food drive is overflowing this fall as the just-completed campaign has so far collected more donations than the fall 2020 effort, said Lakota school officials.

The effort benefits Reach Out Lakota with canned goods and other nonperishables needed by the primary relief organization for needy families in West Chester and Liberty townships.

“We are still calculating the final tally and weight total for this year’s food drive, but early figures indicate we’ve topped last year’s count,” said Lauren Boettcher, a spokeswoman for Lakota. “With still seven schools to report their final tallies, we’ve already exceeded last year’s count by almost 1,000 items.”

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It’s all much appreciated, said Reach Out Lakota CEO Scott Stephens and much needed, especially in year two of a coronavirus pandemic with all its economic impacts hitting local, low-income families particularly hard.

“I heard they did really well and last year we had 15,000 pounds of donations,” said Stephens. “Lakota always seems to rise to the occasion.”

It’s the 14th straight year for the food drive, which ended for the 17,000-student Lakota Schools last Friday and included thousands of donations from students.

The district-wide food drive is Reach Out Lakota’s largest collection and comes during the pantry’s busiest month of the year.

According to a statement released by Lakota officials: “In 2020, the organization gave out 205,000 meals. That’s the equivalent of over 246,000 pounds of food valued at over $400,000. Through September, the organization has served more families in 2021 than all of 2020.”

“The annual food drive is a long-standing Lakota tradition that our students, staff and residents have always supported,” said Lakota Superintendent Matt Miller. “No matter the circumstances, I am always amazed at the incredible generosity displayed by this community to meet the growing needs of our neighbors.”

Stephens said the annual, coordinated campaign with Lakota is essential.

“It’s critical. We use these collections to get us through the winter,” he said.

“COVID has taught us that any family at any time can be hit with an emergency that forces them to reach out to others for help. Because of the generosity of the parents, students and staff in the Lakota school district, Reach Out Lakota is here to provide food, clothing and school supplies to those who find themselves in a tough situation,” said Stephens.

For donation and other information on Reach Out Lakota see its website.

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