By Alysa Rippee
Cougar News Blog
Another year at Cactus Canyon means another food drive. During the week of Sept. 23-27, kids at Cactus Canyon Junior High have the chance to enter a contest and help an organization by bringing in food. The program that Cactus Canyon will be supporting is Project Help.
Project Help is a non-profit program that is funded by community donations within the Apache Junction Unified School District. Its purpose is to help out students whose living conditions may affect their welfare and education. The program also wants the parents or guardians who receive help to pay them back by volunteering in the community. Project Help collects canned soup, peanut butter and jelly, cereal, and even gift cards to grocery stores so meat, eggs, milk and other items can be purchased.
“I hope (students) learn how important it is to give to fellow classmates and all AJUSD students and their families that have hit on hard times and need some help,” said Lailoni Capozzi, coordinator of Project Help. “I hope they will think about what it would be like to not have food to eat, only can(ned) veggies, and they will donate food that they like to eat to the can food drive.“
As for the contest, students will bring in food to their science teachers and that team will get points for the donations. Items that cost more or are especially needed are worth more points. A box or bag of cereal is worth four points; peanut butter, jelly, and spaghetti sauce are worth three; pasta and canned meats are worth two; and canned soups are worth one. If an expired item is found, a point will be marked off for that team. The team that gets the most points earns ice cream from the Student Council.
“Project Help has asked us to bring in cereal, peanut butter and jelly, pasta and sauce, canned meats and soups, and condiments like ketchup and mustard,” said StuCo adviser Jason Davis. “People usually think of canned veggies for food drives, but they already get a lot of those donations and they need donations of higher quality items. Because, really, who gets home from school and wants to open a can of creamed corn for their snack? The answer is no one.“
Along with a contest, student council made a video for the food drive based on the video “How Animals Eat Their Food.” Davis said that he knows that students will laugh when they see it, but hopes it is also informative and encourages students to donate.
“The reason we do the food drive every year is, besides to help people who need it, is to show our students how easy it is to do good things in our community,” Davis said.” Sure, it doesn’t seem like much to bring in a can of soup or box of pasta, but it adds up in a hurry. We hope to get at least 1,000 donations this year.“
To be eligible for aid, the guardian of the child must apply at the Project Help office, in person. The child must be enrolled in an AJUSD school and regularly attending, the family must be living in the district boundaries, and all incomes and expenses must be provided. To learn more about Project Help a Facebook and an AJUSD page on the website can be visited.
“I have been the coordinator/director of AJUSD Project Help for 18 years and I can only tell you I do it because our children are our greatest natural resources and we all must do all we can to see they achieve in school and succeed as productive adults,“ Capozzi said. “I like to think I am making a difference in some kids lives that would not have had a chance to realize their dreams without this program.”