EAST MANATEE -- Monday wasn't the first time Nolan Middle School student support specialist Carrier Rainwater kissed a farm animal -- she grew up with a goat.
After school Monday, Rainwater puckered up for not one but two cows to laud students in the school's FFA chapter who collected 1,250 canned goods. The good go to the Salvation Army Friday to help those in need through the holidays. For every 250 cans collected, a different staff member at the school kissed a cow or pig on campus.
With 1,250 in the bag, it was Rainwater's turn. And Reba Smack-Entire, a heifer, was ready for her kisses. Rainwater also kissed a calf for the cameras.
"It was very interesting," Rainwater said of the kiss. "The students have been working really hard to collect cans for the Salvation Army so they came up with the tiered system of fundraising to get interest from other students."
The incentive helped students reach out for the worthy cause, said FFA chapter president J.T. Griman, a 13-year-old eighth-grade student at Nolan. He bought ramen noodles to contribute to the project. Griman said other organizations at the school have taken on worthy causes, but none at such a large scale.
"Nobody else was taking charge," he said. "We took it upon us to do it."
FFA member Jay Cournoyer, a 12-year-old seventh-grade student at the school, said the 2,500 items would be easily achievable if each student brought in two items. Cournoyer has already brought in some soups and vegetables to help the cause.
If the students double up to 2,500 it will be principal Scot Boice's turn to kiss a farm animal. Anything over that amount and FFA advisor and agriculture teacher Carolyn Gilbert will take a pie to the face.
She spends too much time kissing animals all day for that to be an incentive, she said.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter@MeghinDelaney.