Tag Archives: food pantry

Meeting Our Goal…Again!


It is amazing when you are able to work in a place where you can help to do good things for others while teaching empathy at the same time. For nine years I have been running a food drive at our school. We challenge every class to collect 100 items by the 100th Day of School. We have over 25 classes in our school, so if each class reaches the goal, we are able to donate close to 3000 items to local food pantries. Once again, our amazing school community did it! Thanks to them and our many volunteers, children, teachers and parents, we loaded over 200 bags into 8 cars and delivered it all to two local food pantries.

I love when students come to me and tell me it is one of the things they look forward to every year. No matter their age, from the Kindergarteners to the fifth graders, I love to see their enthusiasm when they see the bags of food piling up outside of my classroom. They can see the impact of how much good can be done when everyone pitches in.They are learning such an important lesson and so many people will benefit because of it.



Feeding So Many

feed just one

A few days ago, I read on Facebook that one of our local food pantries was in dire need of donations for the upcoming weekend’s food handouts.  The shelves were nearly bare.  The post shared by many in our community, “went viral!” Well, as viral as it can go in our two towns, but the response was huge and the pantry shelves were filled in just a few days.

Unfortunately, after Saturday’s handouts, those shelves will be empty again.

After the Facebook thank yous and a celebration of a job well done, someone in one of the groups where it was first shared, suggested that a Facebook page be created for just this need.

I decided to take it on. With the help from a few friends, “Feed SOMany” was created. Our two towns are, South Orange and Maplewood, (SOM).  Dave came up with the clever name. I have to give him credit for that one! He’s creative with that sort of thing. Much more than I am!

The idea of the group, is to keep people informed of the needs of each pantry. To announce food drives around town and to let others know of collection dates for each pantry. Sometimes, all it takes is a small reminder and the goal of this group is to do just that!

One woman posted this morning, that Shop Rite is holding its Can Can Sale right now. A perfect time to stock up on those most needed staple items. Exactly what this group has been created for.

Summer is rough for food pantries but people are still hungry. People still need to be fed. A few extra food items in your shopping cart each week, dropped off to the pantries can really help.

If you are a resident of South Orange Maplewood, or a surrounding area, join the group. If not, maybe start your own because no one should ever have to go hungry.


Our Staycation


On April 3, I decided that I would not be writing daily on my blog. It is funny, some nights, I go to bed thinking that I forgot to do something for the day! It got to be such a habit for me.

I have still written several times this month and posted stories of kindness. I still read other bloggers entries and when I am feeling inspired or whimsical, like tonight, I sit down and write.

Tonight ends our Spring Break.  Back to reality tomorrow morning when that alarm goes off at 6am. Back to schedules and routines.  I got used to being at home.  We had a “staycation” this year.  No trip for us.  Drew was lucky enough to be invited to Great Wolf Lodge with the family of one of his good friends. DJ was busy with baseball.

Drew started the week off on a high note with his Spartan Race.  The weather was gorgeous and we knew if the whole week could be like that, it wouldn’t matter that we were staying home and not going anywhere.  Well, it wasn’t.  We had torrential rain on Monday and SNOW flurries two days!

At least it forced me to get some Spring Cleaning done – nowhere near as much as I had hoped to do, but some. The Veterans came and picked up a lot of “stuff” that was cluttering up the rooms.  I always joke that the house feels lighter after a donation pick up.

I was lucky enough to get to celebrate my best friend’s birthday by taking her to lunch. I did some collections for the Prom Dress Drive and for the local food pantry.  Dave and I used some gift cards we had been saving for awhile, and got to see a movie and have lunch.

I got to experience everyone’s vacations through Facebook. When I realized that DJ’s Spring break won’t ever fall at the same time as ours, it motivated me to look into a trip over our holiday break from school. Maybe it is something to strive for.  Looks like I need to sell a lot more jewelry!! 🙂 🙂

Stock the Shelves


This afternoon, I, along with several amazing volunteers delivered over 125 bags of food to two local food pantries.  Our school had our annual 100th Day of School Food Drive.  We challenge every class to collect 100 items by the 100th day of school, (today,) and then all of it gets donated to these two food pantries.

I am fortunate to teach in a community of very supportive families and their contributions helped to fill the shelves.  When I arrived at one of the pantries, the shelves were nearly empty.  There were lots of green beans and tomato sauce, but other than that, the shelves were nearly bare.  The woman who organizes the pantry told me that they weren’t sure what was going to happen on Saturday when people came to get food, because there was so little there to give them.

I am so grateful that our school was able to do a part in getting those shelves filled.  Sadly, that food won’t last long and I wish there was a way to get the word out about how important it is to keep the pantries stocked.

When you see a “Can Can Sale,” grab a few extras.  Drop them off.  They are needed more than most people are aware!!

It Really Isn’t Hard

giving back2

I have a day off today.  Tomorrow too.  It is the NJEA Teachers’ Convention and despite the fact that I would love to be in Atlantic City taking advantage of the classes offered, this year, we just could not swing the cost.  What some people don’t realize is, while the classes offered are free, the hotel, food and gas money is not.  That, along with child care for many people, is a big reason why so many of us in Northern New Jersey can’t take part in this convention. 

I decided instead to make this a productive, charitable day instead.  My day started getting up an hour later than on a normal work day!! Yippee 7am! I spent two hours writing narratives (5 out of 23) for report cards, updating my classroom website and doing some lesson planning.

I loaded up my car with all of the candy donations from school and neighbors and headed over to a Barre class.  A morning exercise class is a luxury to me!  While there, the owner, Lydia and I discussed her next monthly charitable endeavor.  She chooses one per month to promote. This month, we are hoping to gather donations for the local animal shelter.  Upon leaving there, I collected more candy that had been dropped of to her studio, as well as a bag of food that someone had left for the food pantry.

I headed to a thrift shop that I keep reading about.  The Op-Shop. My friend Eebie works there and she posts photos and comments about the great finds there, and knowing how much I love a good deal, Dave encouraged me to go check it out.  All proceeds go to the church that it is affiliated with, so no matter what I found, it would be a win-win situation! I hit the jackpot!  Sweaters, a suede skirt.  I have a new wardrobe for the winter.  When I left, I was even able to donate a bag of clothing that has been in my car.  I had been keeping it there hoping to put it into one of those clothing boxes found in parking lots, but this worked out even better.

Then, it was off to the orthodontist who was going to take all of that candy!  They had a $25 limit, but I brought them nearly 50 pounds of candy thanks to all of the donations.  Along with the $25, they offered another donation to Rent Party after hearing that I would be donating the proceeds to them.

On my way home, I had two more stops to make.  The first was to the food pantry to drop off that bag of food and the second to another neighbor who is collecting Halloween Costumes that will be shared at the school she teaches where many of the students are underprivileged and not able to afford to buy new costumes.  Those costumes were also passed along to me and I was happy to find a place that can make good use of them.

Now, I am home.  About to weed through my closet and drawers to find clothes that I can donate before filling them up with my new treasures from today.  It came full circle.  Such a positive, giving day and sooooo incredibly easy.  All of this done in less than 3 hours. It barely cost me a thing and in the end, so many people are benefiting.

I don’t post this to make people say, “Great job Claire” but to show how easy it really is.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot to make a difference.

Stocking the Shelves

reason to help

Tonight, I took Drew and we went over to St. Joseph’s food pantry to help shelve some of the food that we brought over from The 100th Day Food Drive my school held two weeks ago.  In total our school had collected about 150 bags of food. Half of it went to St. Joe’s, so with 75 bags of food just from Tuscan School, plus all the other donations that were there, a lot needed to be done.  I wanted to bring Drew along.  He was a big help in getting the program started at Tuscan School.  When he was in second grade, he won a “Littlest Volunteer Award.”  He received $50 to use towards his project.  In his essay for the contest, he had written that he would buy bins to hold the food that was collected by all of the classes.  Together, he and I went to Target, bought large bins and distributed them to the classrooms in the school.  We used them for a few years until they dwindled down and the bags became easier for transporting.

Mr. and Mrs. Blaesser, parents of very good friends of ours, help to keep the St. Joe’s food pantry running smoothly.  They were so grateful for the food and when we dropped it off, we asked if they needed help on sorting night, (tonight.)  They said they could never predict how many people would be able to come to sort so they said they would be happy to have us help.  It was a big night for volunteers.  At least 25 people must have shown up to help out.  Volunteers of all ages were there to help.  Such a nice thing to see.

The shelves were nearly empty when we arrived.  By the time all of the food was sorted, the shelves were filled.  What a sight!  Thursday night, all that food gets bagged up for families to pick up on Saturday.  A large amount of it gets delivered to home-bound seniors.   I am sure that despite the amount that was there tonight, after Thursday, there will be very little once again.   There is such a dire need for food and every little bit helps.

For the rest of the month, the studio where I have been taking classes, Viva Z, is holding a food drive.  They will donate all items collected to the food pantry as well.  Collecting and donating food is not hard to do and it is so needed.  I am sure there is a food pantry somewhere near you that would be grateful to receive anything that you are able to donate.  Spread the word and give what you can.

pano food drive photo 1 bags of food


rich heart

I took my boys into New York City today.  Since The All-Star Game will be held at Citi Field this summer, there are painted apples all over the city representing all of the teams in the league.  We got to see 11 of the 35 apples today.  It was a fun and exhausting day but we had a really nice time, and the boys actually got along for MOST of the time.  It was a great way to spend our first day of summer vacation!

While we were there, we saw many homeless people on the streets.  Some were pan handling, some were sleeping and others were just trying to find some shade to keep cool on such a hot day.  This is something my boys have definitely seen before, but for some reason, the three of us really took notice of it today.  We saw a woman rummaging through trash bins looking for cans and bottles.  She had a cart overflowing with them.  Her cart was also filled with what looked to be all of her belongings.  Drew mentioned that she must be taking the recycling to a place to get money for it.  He told me that he hopes that she buys some food with that money.  I told him, I hope she had a place to sleep or at least a safe place to keep it all.

We saw one man, (and this was so heartbreaking), actually taking a discarded soda from the trash, along with a napkin, and drinking it.  It is something that I cannot stop thinking about.  I don’t give money to pan handlers.  I just don’t feel like this is the best way to help.  I know that I cannot help all of them, and ignoring them as I pass is probably not the right way to deal with it.  I do many charitable things to help those less fortunate than me, and although I know those things will not directly help the people we saw on the street today, at least in my heart I know that I am doing what I can.  I know that my boys also felt sympathetic towards them and I noticed them averting their eyes as we passed them on the street.  I tried to talk to them about it.  We talked about how there is always a story behind why someone is living out on the streets and that we cannot judge these people.  My boys biggest concern was that they hoped they found a place to sleep at night time.

Both of my boys are empathetic.  Drew is the one who urged me to start The 100th Day Food Drive at our school, https://aprojectforkindness.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/food-drive/ .  I know that they are aware of the needs of others.  It is a sad fact, but homeless people are a part of our society. I want my boys to respect all people.  In our town, they don’t come across people living out on the streets, but there are definitely people who are struggling to make ends meet.  The lines at the food pantry in town sometimes stretches out the door.  Each week a sign on the door of the pantry says that they feed between 80-90 families.  We talked about the fact that even if they have a home, they might be struggling in another way.  Perhaps this summer, I can encourage them to do some volunteering.  I plan on doing a big summer clean up at our house.  I will encourage the boys to go through their things and donate what they no longer use or need.  Bringing the items themselves to a place where others will be able to make good use of them will be another good example of how they can help others.  I want them to build compassion and strengthen their character. When they realize that homelessness is a problem, perhaps they will find ways that will help them become a part of finding a solution.