Community donates 279,000 cans

by Sarah Fay Campbell

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Heritage students Philip Griffies, Kirby Arnall and Jake Trammell check expiration dates on canned items before counting and sorting them Tuesday at the 30th annual Can-A-Thon. 


The 30th Annual Coweta Can-A-Thon raised approximately 279,000 items of canned and packaged food and cash equivalents, to benefit the Coweta Community Food Pantry.

On Friday, with only the numbers from Piedmont Newnan Hospital still remaining, the total was just under 279,000 said Ginny Lambert, Can-A-Thon co-chair for the Newnan Junior Service League, which organizes the annual food drive.

"The students really came out and so did the community," said Lambert. And "it's not just the students. It's their families and the staff of these schools who work really hard to motivate everybody."

The goal for this year’s event was 300,000 items. The goal has been 300,000 for the past three years, and it has yet to be attained, but that's OK, she said.

Lambert was asked if the Junior League might think of lowering the goal next year.

"I think we're going to keep pushing for the stars," she said. New this year was a drop-off point at the Goodwill center at Thomas Crossroads. It replaced the one in downtown Senoia. The new location was quite successful, even on a rainy day, and plans are to continue having it.

Hopes are that, as more people become aware of it, the new drop-off point will help bring in more items. The highest Can-A-Thon total ever was in 2009, when Cowetans raised 362,894 in cans and cash equivalent. However, at that time monetary donations were calculated at four items per dollar. They are now calculated at three per dollar.

All the food and money raised goes to the Coweta Community Food Pantry, which helps feed needy Cowetans. The money is used by pantry staff to replenish items that run out and to buy high-demand items such as meat and fruit.

Of the total, 234,232 food items came from the Coweta County School System. That's up significantly from last year's school collection of approximately 182,000 items.

East Coweta High School raised the most items this year with 33,401, narrowly beating second place Lee Middle School, which collected 33,097.

The ECHS food drive included a faculty/student basketball game the Friday before Thanksgiving.

“I’m so proud of our students and teachers for making such a sizable contribution to Can-A-Thon and to our community,” said ECHS Principal Evan Horton.

“I am extremely proud of the students and faculty at Lee Middle School for their participation in the Can-A-Thon again this year,” said Lee Principal Cindy Bennett.

“The Can-A-Thon is one of the largest service projects that Lee Middle School participates in each year,” Bennett said. The Can-A-Thon is led by the homeroom representatives to the Student Council. Lee students and faculty held several activities in November to help raise funds and cans.

When the school’s girls’ volleyball team won the middle school championship this year, Lee faculty challenged them to a volleyball match to help raise donations. Lee students participated in service projects such as walking dogs, raking leaves or just donating birthday money, and homerooms competed against one another to raise the most cans or funds to donate.

“Although some students were motivated by friendly competition, students never lost focus of the true reason for participating — helping out the community,” said Bennett.

“One student said that the reason we do this is not to win anything and it’s not for recognition; we do this because helping others is the right thing to do.” Spirited, fun — and sometimes silly — events and activities are a big part of school fundraising. They included a contest at Canongate Elementary to see which administrator would have to "kiss a pig." Students got to wear pajamas at Brooks, Atkinson and Willis Road elementary schools. Students who brought peanut butter to Arnco-Sargent got to wear a hat for a day. Administrators at Welch Elementary promised to do the chicken dance for students if they met their goal, and Newnan Crossing Elementary used a "Duck Dynasty" themed fundraising competition.

Smokey Road Middle School held a "Powder Puff" football game and other events to raise money for the event. "Special thanks go to Ms. Lititia Allen and her family for their direct contribution of a $1,000 to our Can-A-Thon drive," said Smokey Road Principal Jose Casablanca. “We are very proud of all our students, staff, and parents who contributed so generously to this great cause.”

The top schools in this year's Can-A-Thon effort are: East Coweta High, 33,401; Lee Middle, 33,097; Newnan High, 26,205; Brooks Elementary, 14,200; Madras Middle, 13,672; Smokey Road Middle, 12,216; and Newnan Crossing Elementary, 10,361.



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