On Sunday, Sept 29, the Cinnaminson School District held its second annual Stuff the Bus event. Cinnaminson Middle School students manned the bus and collected non-perishable items for Students Change Hunger in New Jersey through the Food Bank of South Jersey, the Bread of Life Food Pantry and the Jane Weilenbeck Holiday Food Drives.
According to Cinnaminson Middle School teacher Melissa DeClementi, Stuff the Bus is a district-wide character program through the Character Strong Pirate Pride Initiative. The middle school’s unity club does it as a project rallying participation from all four schools and administrative offices. It’s an opportunity for students to get involved with community service and understand what it feels like to do something for others.
“What’s really neat about this is that there’s people bringing donations that aren’t even a part of the school,” said DeClementi. “I think that is pretty cool. We were recognized as one of the New Jersey top five schools that contribute to the food bank, and the Food Bank of South Jersey will actually be following us throughout the fall. I think that’s going to be a cool experience for the kids.”
Not only was the Stuff the Bus event an opportunity for students to get involved with community service, but DeClementi, the middle school and Principal Ryan Gorman turned the event into a contest.
The students collected items such as cereal, oatmeal, granola bars, breakfast bars, peanut butter and jelly, canned soup, canned vegetables, canned fruit, condiments, gravy, spaghetti sauce, pasta, boxed potatoes, stuffing, boxed crackers, and baby food and formula. Each item donated to Stuff the Bus was rewarded with one point, and every student who arrived in a pirate costume received five points for their team.
The contest spraked a competitive spirit within the students and community and resulted in a vast amount of food to give to the food bank.
“Each year we add more events, and it’s just amazing to see the interest and how much emphasis is given to this now,” said DeClementi. “People are so into service and the kids really enjoy it and like helping.
“In all of the programs we do, we like to show the kids where all of their hard work is going,” DeClementi continued. “The kids are not just collecting food and sending it away. They’re going to go to the food bank, take the items there, and then in the spring we’ll take them back and they’ll work there. They’ll sort the items and package them for whoever is getting it. It just a total process.
“Cinnaminson is the best place to put an emphasis on community service,” said DeClementi. “Any time that there is a drive, collection or a crisis with a family in need, I’ve said this for the last 22 years that I’ve been here, there’s no town like this town.”
Over the course of the week, the school district will be tallying up the points and announcing the winner. The winning team will be rewarded with a pizza party, however, the victory will be short-lived as the school district constantly has plans around competing for the service of others.