Warming Hearts

Students, staff donate to charity

Isis Durkin , Copy Editor

Throughout the holiday season, Hoover staff and students, as well as the citizens of North Canton, have taken the opportunity to give back to their community and help those who are most in need. The holidays are difficult for many people, and these acts of service have undoubtedly assisted many.
Guidance Department Winter Drive
The North Canton Cares Pantry is a community-based organization that aims to assist individuals and families in need in North Canton. This past summer, Mrs. Jen Griffin, a guidance counselor at Hoover High School, began working with the North Canton Cares Pantry. She spoke of her initial interactions with the pantry and her role there.
“They were looking for a school liaison,” Griffin said. “I met with some of the members, and it seemed like a perfect fit. Since then, I think that the connection and communication between the pantry and the school district [have] been able to improve.”
Her primary job is to be a liaison for communication between the pantry and all the schools in the district to ensure they receive everything they need.
“If the pantry has an extra need for something specific, I’ll tell the counselors at each grade level in the district, and everyone works together to help out,” Griffin said.
This year, the North Canton Cares Pantry has worked with North Cantons Schools multiple times to collect donations.
“At the beginning of the school year, we collected school supplies for families with kids going back to school,” Griffin said. “Around Thanksgiving, we collected turkeys and Thanksgiving dinner fixings.”
Additionally, the donations they received around Thanksgiving turned out to be a huge success.
“The guidance offices at each school this year coordinated the drive for Thanksgiving food items- each school targeted different items that we wanted to provide at the Thanksgiving food pantry,” she said. “At the Thanksgiving pantry, we served 110 families and had over 60 volunteers.”
Leading up to the holidays, the guidance counselors worked together to collect essential items for the season. Together, they asked students from all schools to donate hats, gloves, scarves and other winter items to ensure everyone had warm clothing during these frigid months.
“The winter drive was a huge success,” Griffin said. “We had an entire room filled with winter clothing items including hats, scarves, gloves, and coats.”
Griffin also leads the Agape Girls, which provides a way for seventh-grade girls to connect with juniors and seniors at the high school through monthly meetings. Because of her connection to these girls, she has found ways to include them as well.
“I thought that winter clothing items given away as holiday gifts were a great little way for the Agape Girls to get involved with the pantry since we focus on spreading positivity and warmth through Agape Girls,” she said. “I asked the Agape Girl leaders to talk with their groups about bringing in items to give away at the pantry, and they did a great job of taking ownership of that.”
She hopes to find even more ways for them to be involved in the future.
“As I gain more and more experience in my role on the board, I would love to create even more connections and opportunities to serve our community [through the school district in general, but also through Agape Girls], so I would absolutely do it again,” Griffin said.
Griffin also stressed the importance of collecting year-round and how the need for donations is even greater at certain times of the year.
“Of course, we are always collecting food items, hygiene products, and toiletries for every pantry, but it’s really nice to have some extra special gifts [for] the season,” she said.
Social Studies Department Canned Food Drive
Hoover High School’s social studies department has continued its tradition of hosting a canned food drive to help people in need around the holidays. This yearly tradition began over 30 years ago by a previous department chair, Mr. Paul Kieffer. Since then, it has evolved into a massive event full of giving.
As the current co-department chair, Mr. Andrew Arnold spoke about the changes this year brought for the food drive.
“We used to donate to Crossroads United Methodist in Canton, but they changed their food bank model a few years ago and don’t accept cans as much as they used to,” Arnold said.
Crossroad United Methodist’s food pantry has begun asking for more fresh food than cans, and since the food drive lasts multiple weeks, it would be impossible to keep the food fresh. So, taking these changes in stride, the social studies department searched for new places to donate.
“We decided to reach out to Jeff Dayton from the North Canton Cares Pantry,” he said. “It has been really exciting gathering goods for the North Canton community.”
Arnold also spoke of the goals that the department had for the food drive.
“We don’t really have number goals, but it’s always fun to get our students to challenge previous class records,” Arnold said. “The goal is to get as many items as possible to help those in need, especially during the holiday season.”
Mr. Jim Draher, the co-chair of the social studies department, discussed the interactions he sees between students during the food drive.
“I like to make it a friendly competition among [my] classes,” Draher said. “Students like to compare their class to others. If they know someone in another class that may start razzing their friend or make comments about how they are going to win.”
Friendly competition like this has led to quite an increase in items collected. Draher specifically mentioned the abundance of donations he saw from fellow teacher Mr. Dan Campanaro. Campanaro’s classes collected over 3,000 items in total. His two senior courses, made up of only 34 people combined, collected over 2,600 food and hygiene items.
Overall, the food drive was very successful in their eyes, and the school donated many items.
“Our 2021 count was 7,586 items,” Arnold said. “This included non-perishable food items, hygiene items, diapers, and other needed items.”