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McPheeters Bend seeks donations to stock food pantry for upcoming school year

Jeff Bobo • Jul 11, 2018 at 2:15 PM

CHURCH HILL — School staff and the community are working together to restock the McPheeters Bend Elementary emergency food pantry, which opened in February and quickly made a big impact.

The school is located in the Goshen Valley community just south of Church Hill.

On Thursday, local resident Shelia Lumpkins will be on campus from 6-8 p.m. for the first of several scheduled donation dropoffs.

What items are needed?

Lumpkins is asking the public to bring food items that children can prepare or warm up themselves in the microwave such as canned soup and pasta, Spaghetti O’s, spaghetti and meatballs, ravioli, small jars of peanut butter and jelly, mac and cheese, cereal, fruit cups, canned fruit, pudding and jello cups, snack crackers, cookies, canned veggies, juice boxes and tuna packs.

“Pretty much anything that is nonperishable and will fit in a backpack,” Lumpkins said. “Once school begins on Aug. 6, you can always drop off donations there. Just see (teacher) Christina Bellamy.”

How did the food pantry get started?

On Feb. 15, McPheeters Bend opened its food pantry to meet the needs of students and their families.

Aside from food, it also stocked basic toiletry items such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, deodorant, shampoo, etc.

Bellamy said the school held a Valentine’s Day fundraiser where students brought in a baby picture and other students voted for their favorite using pennies.

“We raised over $460 to help get the food pantry started,” Bellamy said. “Parents, staff and members of the community also brought in food donations. In the three months it was in operation during the school year, we sent home 171 backpacks of food. Students and their families do not need to fill out an application to qualify. They just need to express a need.”

Students in need pick up a backpack filled with food on Friday and return it empty on Monday.

“We use backpacks so that the students do not have to carry a sack of food on the bus and can maintain some sense of privacy,” Bellamy added.

On Thursday, a Kingsport business owner who wishes to remain anonymous will present Bellamy with a $1,000 donation to help keep the pantry open in 2018-19.

How can you help?

That $1,000 donation probably won’t be enough to meet the demand for an entire school year.

That’s why Lumpkins has agreed to host several donation dropoffs at the school, to give the community a chance to help stock the food pantry before the first day of classes.

After Thursday, donation dropoff dates include July 16, 19, 23, 26, 30 and August 2 — all from 6-8 p.m.

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