Lakota Schools took the top prize in helping needy families this fall but winners also included poor families in Middletown and Hamilton Schools as the three Butler County districts combined for a “Stuff The Bus” food drive contest. Celebrating in one of the buses used to store donated foods are from left to right: Middletown Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr., Hamilton Superintendent Mike Holbrook and Lakota Superintendent Matt Miller. (Provided Photo/Journal-News)

3 Butler County school districts ‘Stuff The Bus’ to raise 15K pounds of food

This year’s “Stuff The Bus” food drive for needy families included a friendly competition with two other Butler County school systems – Hamilton and Middletown – with Lakota driving off with the top prize.

MORE: This year’s Lakota Stuff The Bus food drive expands to take on 2 on other districts

The cross-town contest saw more than 15,000 pounds of donated food collected in Lakota Schools’ two townships of West Chester and Liberty, and in Hamilton and Middletown.

“It’s always fun to be a little competitive, but the truth of the matter is that we are all in the business of serving our communities,” said Lakota Superintendent Matt Miller in a released statement. “It’s great to see what we can accomplish when we all come together around a single cause.”

Each school district’s collected donations go to that school system’s local food pantries.

For the Reach Out Lakota organization, the annual school drive brings in its largest food donations of the year and it’s appreciated, said CEO Scott Stephens.

“Reach Out Lakota served a record number of families in October and our shelves were bare. We haven’t seen our supply this low in years,” Stephens said. “Thankfully the donations came in and we were able to serve 27 families the same day we were unloading the buses. This food will sustain our pantry through March or April.”

The Lakota-based contest, which is now in its 12th year, used to be limited to the district with Lakota West and Lakota East high schools competing. But in recent years the autumn food drive contest has instead focused on competing against other districts.

Given the varying sizes of all three districts, the leader was determined by the total weight per student, said Lakota officials.

Lakota accounted for nearly 12,000 pounds of the grand total, enough to stuff two school buses with canned goods and other non-perishable items, said school officials.

Officials from Middletown Schools partnered with its very own Middletown Success program, which serves students and their families.

“Service and collaboration are the Middie way, so this partnership was a no-brainer,” said Superintendent Marlon Styles. “We are always all in when it comes to supporting our community and it was really a great feeling to see how it all added up with three districts involved.”

Hamilton Schools Superintendent Mike Holbrook said he appreciated the invite for his district to join this year’s inter-city contest.

The Hamilton food drive benefited the Shared Harvest Foodbank.

“Stuff the Bus was a great event for our three communities to help stock our local food pantry shelves in time for the upcoming holidays,” Holbrook said. “All three communities win this friendly contest.”

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