Photos by Rome City Schools
East Central Elementary’s faculty and their EC Leadership Team set a goal to collect 2000 non-perishable foods items for their yearly canned food drive.
Well, Principal Kristin Teems and her team now have 2,686 reasons to be happy about their contributions to the Salvation Army, the We Care Service Center and Rome Action Ministries. This is the total number of can foods, dry goods and other food items the school was able to donate to these three organizations, and this goal could not have been achieved without the help of the teachers, students and the East Central community all lending a hand.
“We sent a letter home with all of our students this year to help us collect donated food for our Backpack Buddies Program. This is a program started through a partnership with Rome Action Ministries where we send food home with students so that they will have something to eat over the weekend. When we identify a need for selected students, we are able to count on Rome Action Ministries to come through for us every single week with food to pack inside the backpacks,” Teems said.
The backpacks include food that can be used as dinner items, side dishes and snack foods. All backpacks are equipped discreetly before the child leaves school on Friday afternoon.
Part of what makes each year’s can-a-thon so special is that East Central is able to return the sentiment and donate food items to Rome Action Ministries (RAM) through their can drive. RAM dropped off 113 Backpack Buddies kits before loading her van with 900 food items from East Central’s can drive.
Dawn Hayes, Volunteer and Program Coordinator for Bagwell Food Pantry/SuperPacks Action Ministries Northwest Region, said that her organization’s partnership with East Central and other schools is what makes this community special. “Our partnership with East Central is one that is longstanding,” said Hayes. “All of my children went to East Central, so this school is very dear to me and my family. When we started our SuperPack program, I knew there was a need at East Central because of my personal connection with the school. I knew there were kids who came in on Monday hungry, because I would often substitute teach at East Central. This was one of the first schools I suggested when we started SuperPack at Rome Action Ministries and it has been a wonderful relationship since then.”
RAM and their SuperPack program is now in its 10th year, nine of those years spent working with East Central. The nonprofit serves over 1000 families per month in the Rome/Floyd County area. So, the extra food during the holiday season is a welcomed addition to tables in our community.
It really does take a village to love and care for our families, and Teems said that hard work and a lot of moving parts go into their mission of service.
“Our relationship with Rome Action Ministries is huge,” Teems said, “because every one of our students who needs extra food goes home with it over the weekend. And through our canned food drive, we have been able to support them as well. So, it is because of the work of our EC Leadership Team, our teachers, our parents and our community partners that we are able to show our children how to serve and care for others. This is a lesson we want them to carry forward and apply it to all that they do.”