With a recent competition among the East Newton R-6 School District fall sports teams and activities, a total of 8,868 food items were collected for the Bright Futures of East Newton.
GRANBY — With a recent competition among the East Newton R-6 School District fall sports teams and activities, a total of 8,868 food items were collected for the Bright Futures of East Newton.
"The softball team, led by Ashley Burns (a East Newton High School student), they actually initiated this contest and it was between all of our fall sports programs to bring in and donate as much items that they can get and these items are going to go to fill our backpacks for the next few months or more," said Shannon McDermott, Bright Futures advisory council member at East Newton and coordinator for the (Bright Futures) backpack program. "We went to a meeting with softball and gave them some information about Bright Futures and Ashley called a few days later, said, 'hey we have this challenge we want to put out there and we are going to do this.' So they did."
The fundraiser began back in September.
"What I told my softball girls was to go to church, tell your family and friends to donate money or bring in food, anyway you possibly can get the food," Burns said.
The totals were announced Monday morning in the high school's gymnasium. The totals are as follows:
• Youth cheerleading program — 3,663
• High school softball — 1,315
• Junior high football — 1,086
• Junior high cheerleading — 1,066
• High school volleyball — 596
• Youth volleyball — 474
• High school football — 280
• Junior high volleyball — 268
"Basically, we are feeding 86 students a week food, children that lack enough food for the weekend to keep them healthy so they can come to school ready to learn on Mondays," McDermott said. "We send 86 packs of food home each week to those students in the district, it is district wide. (When we first started the program) we were serving just under 50."
Asked how far this food will help the backpack program, McDermott said, "it will definitely pack for a couple of months for sure. We put 12-14 items each week in a pack. Of course when we have a long weekend such as this coming weekend, we are packing for four days, we are out of school on Friday and (next) Monday, so we are trying to make sure that those students have adequate food for all four of those days, so we will double pack this week."
The winner of the challenge – youth cheerleading program – will receive a party.
"Softball (team) is throwing them an ice cream party," said Burns.
Plans are already under way to have another competition during the spring semester of high school.
"(I am) extremely pleased (with the response of food collected)," said McDermott.