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Area students recognized for collecting cans of food

By Staff | Oct 24, 2009

The Salvation Army of Lee County recognized local students Friday morning for collecting thousands of canned goods for needy families.
Students from the Lee County School District have participated in the drive for the last 25 years.
Even though results from this year’s drive are down by 8 percent, students collected a total of 90,863 cans for the Salvation Army’s food pantry at the Outreach Services Center at 2476 Edison Ave. in Fort Myers.
“People are still struggling in our community to provide food for their families,” said Major Art Penhale, corps officer. “There will be light at the end of this tunnel, but it is just a very long tunnel.”
The 97,833 cans collected in 2008 made up 33,000 food bags for local families.
A ceremony was held for the schools who collected the most food. Royal Palm Exceptional School in Fort Myers won the title for the most cans collected for the sixth year in a row.
Winners are judged based on the number of cans per student. Royal Palm students collected 17.1 each.
Megan Spears, spokesperson for the Salvation Army, said 70 schools participated this year.
“We held a ceremony and recognized the top winning schools in several categories,” she said.
Gulf Elementary was the only Cape Coral school recognized at the ceremony by collecting 2.8 cans per student.
The Royal Palm Exceptional School is taking home the grand trophy for a new year.
Ann Wells, a teacher from Royal Palm, said the trophy used to travel from school to school until they continued to win the canned food drive.
“It used to travel but after three years in row they just gave us one,” she said.
Students from Royal Palm were divided into elementary, middle, high and pre-kindergarten and were told the group that brought in the most cans got a pizza party and movie.
“We don’t have movies at our school,” Wells said, “so it was a big competition.”
Dani Clark, a teacher from Gulf Elementary, said administrators offered incentives to students who participated in the drive. They also advertised the drive on the school’s morning news and threw the winning class a party.
“We gave out incentives for the kids who brought the most,” she said.
Second place in the canned food drive was Gateway Charter High with 11.4 cans per student and in third was Mt. Herman Christian with 11.1 cans per student.
Edison Park Elementary had 8.6 cans per student, Heights Elementary had 5.6, Cypress lake Middle 2.6 and Estero High 1.0.