Food went way one and stuffed animals went another as two local organizations traded donations Thursday, aiming to make sure those in need are fed and have comfort.
During National School Psychology Awareness Week, school social workers and other Manatee County School District employees collected non-perishable food at both the school support center and the professional support center. On Thursday, more than 500 food items were dropped off to Lorri Vogel at the Church of the Cross on 26th Stree West.
“I was five items shy of 500 so I was going through my cupboards last night,” Kami Lake, the school social worker at Bayshore Elementary School, said Thursday.
Ultimately, the food will end up heading back to students, as the Church of the Cross works with the Elks Feeding Empty Little Tummies to send backpacks home with students on Fridays to make sure they are fed throughout the weekend.
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In return, Vogel donated four large boxes of brand-new stuffed animals to the social workers. The stuffed animals primarily will go toward the school district’s “The Giving Tree” project, which helps students in poverty have gifts over the holidays. If any stuffed animals are left over, they may be used as attendance incentives or support animals for students going through tough times.
“These stuffed animals have a crazy history,” said Vogel, the community outreach director at the church. “I’ve been sitting on them for a while.”
Arbor Terrace, an RV resort, held the drive a while back, encouraging residents to bring in brand-new stuffed animals. They attempted to donate the animals to a local fire station, which no longer accepted those kind of donations. Someone at the fire station called over to the church and the four large boxes ended up in Vogel’s closet.
When Vogel and Lake began talking about the food donation, Vogel knew she had found the perfect opportunity to make good use of the stuffed animals.
Lake and Vogel were joined by school district social workers Valerie Morrison and Jomayra Cestero to make the donation.