St. Vincent de Paul

PBJHS donates over 9K cans to food pantry
Posted on 12/08/2020
Eighth grader David Williams joins his schoolmates in loading up canned goods.

Poplar Bluff Junior High generated 9,025 canned goods last month for St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, helping to sustain the nonprofit for the entire year, volunteers say.

While the food drive predates the school’s house system, community service projects have become more competitive under the recent structure, according to Principal Candace Warren, who made note that each student brought in an average of 13 non-perishables.

Named after the legendary Three Rivers College Raiders Basketball coach Gene Bess, returning victor House Bess brought in the most cans with 3,347, followed by 3,090 items raised by House Giambelluca, in honor of Poplar Bluff Sports Hall of Fame founder Sam Giambelluca.

Asked if the faculty members have been working to outdo one another, House Bess representative Aaron Duncan replied: “They’ve gotten competitive. We’ve been busy winning.” The key to success, explained the social studies teacher, is a high participation rate, with 72 percent of his students contributing, or 83 out of 115.

“I always tell them that we win with humility and we lose with integrity, because the cause is bigger here,” said Duncan, in all seriousness. “No one’s losing anything, because [regardless], we’re gonna feed someone who needs, say, vegetables.”

St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry distributes 12,000 non-perishable food items to Butler County residents in need each year, according to volunteer Merlin DeWitt. The school’s friendly competition has led to the operation’s largest single donation “by far,” he commented.

Last year, Junior High donated 6,677 non-perishables and in 2018 – 5,700. The top two houses of six will receive pizza parties, and the total points earned go toward an end-of-the-semester field trip for the overall winner.

The canned food drive is organized by the PBJHS social studies department, under the lead of Melinda Moncier, who is a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, which oversees the food pantry. Located on Broadway Street, St. Vincent de Paul also runs a thrift store.

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Cutline: Eighth grader David Williams joins his schoolmates in loading up canned goods for St. Vincent de Paul on Tuesday, Dec. 1, at PBJHS.

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