Printed on: April 30, 2013

Special delivery

By KATIE ROENIGK
news@postregister.com

Students in Bonneville Joint School District 93 have been busy this month helping local mail carriers prepare for the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.

"It's fun," Rocky Mountain Middle School eighth-grader Adrian Martinez said. "We're helping the food bank."

His class folded and labeled 2,000 of the 44,000-plus paper bags that carriers will deliver to area mailboxes in early May. Residents are asked to fill the bags with nonperishable food items and return them to the mailbox May 11 for pickup.

Martinez and his classmate Hayden Holman said they have been part of the districtwide effort before, and they look forward to helping again in high school.

"It's easy to do, and I get out of class," Hayden said. "It feels good."

Irene Becerra, another Rocky Mountain eighth-grader, said she likes to think about the families who will benefit from the food drive while she works on the bags.

"When I see the pictures of the cards it reminds me of the people (whom) this helps," she said.

Teacher Cassandra Schuelke said her students feel good about volunteering their time, but she added that they also learn a lot through the project.

"It requires them to work together and develops team-building skills," she said. "It allows some of them to take charge and be leaders."

She recalled one student who didn't understand why he was being asked to staple notes to paper bags. The student got his answer from a classmate working nearby.

"This other kid looked at him and said, 'It's because you get to help 2,000 people get something to eat,'" Schuelke said. "It helped them bond and work together as a team and see how doing something as little as putting these (packages) together can affect someone else."

Bonneville High School special education teacher Taci Zollinger said students in her functional adult living unit always get excited when April arrives and they receive their yearly food drive task.

"We work pretty closely with them on learning how to be involved in the community, (so this is) a great teaching experience for them," she said. "It's also a great opportunity for them to show they've given back."

Area students have been part of the annual food drive for three years, with more instructors taking advantage of the hands-on lesson each spring.

"Forty-three teachers are involved this year," district spokesman Guy Bliesner said.

"As it stands right now we could probably do more bags than we do, and it's already a bunch. ... Our kids do it, and they really like it."

According to the National Association of Letter Carriers, the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is the country's largest one-day food collection effort. Last year, the group picked up more than 70 million pounds of donated food.

Residents can deliver additional donations to the U.S. Post Office at 605 Fourth St. or 875 N. Capital Ave. in Idaho Falls. For information, call 542-0837.