LEWISTON— The holidays are a time for giving and that is the message fifth-graders at Saint Dominic Academy tried to spread recently by organizing a food drive to benefit St. Mary’s Food Pantry.

During October and November, students challenged their peers to donate non-perishable food items from their own pantries and place them in designated receptacles at the school. The effort was a community service project that all fifth grade students participated in and was headed by teachers Theresa Dufour and Dustin Haskell.

On Nov. 24, the students loaded a school bus and a parent’s van with all the food that was collected and delivered it to St. Mary’s Food Pantry on Bates Street. The students weighed, sorted and organized the items at the pantry, working side-by-side with pantry staff to make sure that items were placed in the appropriate bins.

The students collected over 1,000 food items, totally over 1,123 pounds of food. It was also noted by Joyce Gagnon, director of the pantry, that the two hours the students volunteered allowed the pantry staff to dedicate their efforts toward other projects that are pressing during this busy time of year.

Students were surprised to learn that not everyone has the means to make a large Thanksgiving dinner for their family. St. Dom’s has collected food for similar food drives for over 10 years, and this is the fifth year collecting for St. Mary’s Food Pantry.

“I think it’s important for every student to get involved with service projects like this. It opens students’ eyes to the variety of people who need assistance every day. Likewise, it sets them on a trajectory to feel comfortable volunteering and giving back to our community,” Dufour said

St. Mary’s Food Pantry is a nonprofit organization that serves the communities of Lewiston and Auburn. It provides emergency food assistance, nutritional cooking classes and educational opportunities that allow clients to stretch their food dollars.

For more information or to make a donation, contact Gagnon, at 513-3841 Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 and 11 a.m.

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