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Rock Hill students give, set record

ELIZABETH TOWNSHIP — Redmen, big heart.

Ironton City Mission Director the Rev. Jeff Cremeans and a helper watched Friday afternoon as students from Rock Hill Middle School sorted through literally boxes upon boxes of canned goods, bags of stuffing mix and toys.

The students then loaded the collection into the back of a city mission truck. This Christmas, dozens of needy families will have a Christmas dinner and presents under the tree, compliments of Rock Hill Middle School students and a canned food drive that set a new school record: 3,716 items.

The food drive was organized by the National Junior Honor Society. Adviser Denise Fraley said it was that organization’s community service project.

But the whole school got behind the idea in a big way. This year the food drive had a name —Cannapalooza — and even a mascot, Sweet Corn (student Garret Euton donned a handmade costume for the effort).

The 1,000-item goal quickly mushroomed into a whopper of a donation: By the time Cremeans rolled in to pick up the donated goods, the tally was 3,716 food items and toys, leaving school officials beaming with pride.

“I’ve been over the honor society 20 years and we have never seen this kind of turnout,” Fraley said.

“We appreciate this, I thank them a lot. This is a Godsend for us,” Cremeans said.

He was a Rock Hill graduate from a few years back and seeing this kind of compassion from fellow Redmen was a bit touching too, he said.

Cremeans estimated the food would help feed as many as 100 families this holiday season.

If the staff was proud, the students were, too. Giving can have rewards not only for the recipient but for the giver as well.

“It feels good,” Honor Society member Lindy Simpkins said.

“With all the emphasis on state testing sometimes we can get so absorbed in tests that things like this, lessons like this, fall by the wayside,” Fraley said. “I am so proud of the kids and the teachers for letting them do this. There are a lot of important lessons we teach than just testing.”

Principal Mick Hairston pointed out that some of the students who brought canned goods and toys are not from wealthy families, but they, too, got involved because they saw a need and wanted to do something about it.

“Somewhere, God smiles, huh?” Hairston said.