Bradenton school raises enough to help feed needy with 3.3 tons rice, beans

vmannix@bradenton.comSeptember 25, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Know what 3.3 tons of rice and beans look like?

Ask Kellie Potter, principal at St. Joseph Catholic School.

The foyer of the school's administrative office was lined with stacks of big bags of the food staple, making it look like a barricade against a flood from all this rain.

"We've got rice and beans coming out of the woodwork," she said.

Jeff Belvo was impressed.

"That's a lot of beans and rice," said the president for Stillpoint House of Prayer.

All of it is going to a good cause, too.

The 3-ton bounty will be given to the needy who flock to Stillpoint, 1608 14th St. W., twice a week for assistance. It's the result of the school's annual rice-and-beans campaign for the nonprofit founded in 2001 by Sister Nora Brick.

Tuesday's delivery was postponed by weather until Thursday.

"We'll break it down into smaller bags and distribute it. You come by every Monday and Friday and the parking lot is packed," Belvo said. "This should last us through the first of the year."

The rice-and-beans campaign originated three years ago when the school heard of the nonprofit's plight.

It has evolved into a schoolwide competition between homerooms. This year, pre-kindergarten/4 finished first with more than 3,000 pounds.

Pre-K teacher Maqua O'Shea will be crowned "Rice-and-Beans Queen."

"We're always looking for a project to do in the community, and when we heard supplies were running short at Stillpoint, the parents and kids got behind it," Potter said.

And how, considering the school has just 238 students.

"It's a sacrifice for a lot of our families because we're the 'average Joe,'" Potter said.

Like Tim and Susan Raulerson, whose 4-year-olds, Nia and Ethan, attend St. Joe.

Mom said the twins understood the purpose of the rice-and-beans campaign.

"We talked about how important it is that we give to the community," Raulerson said. "It's hard for us because we've even struggled a little bit. But it's good for them to see that you share, even if you don't have a whole lot."

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter:@vinmannix

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