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Poland students donate more than 1,000 items to Feed Our Vets

 

Elementary students and teachers and others pose outside by the Feed Our Vets truck


Poland Central School District elementary students and teachers pose outside the school on Thursday, Nov. 18, with Feed Our Vets Founder and Executive Director Richard Synek, Poland Principal Greg Cuthbertson and Veterans Day can drive organizers: teacher’s assistant Tracy Irwin and reading teacher Robyn Craig. More than 1,000 items collected through the can drive were donated to Feed Our Vets.


 

 

POLAND – Poland Central School District conducted a can drive in honor of Veterans Day and presented 1,016 items to Feed Our Vets on Thursday, Nov. 18.

 

Richard Synek, the Feed Our Vets founder and executive director, picked up the items and participated in an outdoor event with Poland elementary students. Synek said Feed Our Vets fed more than 5,500 veterans and more than 12,000 people including family members in 2020 and expects to exceed that in 2021 by feeding more than 6,000 veterans and about 16,000 people including family members.

 

“Every can you donate to us helps us feed more and more veterans,” Synek said, to Poland students. “We appreciate everything you’re doing for us.”

 

Poland Central School District has been conducting can drives for Feed Our Vets for many years. The district also usually hosts a breakfast and assembly for veterans before Veterans Day. Because of COVID-19, there wasn’t a can drive or breakfast and assembly in 2020, but the can drive was brought back this year, and organizers are hoping the breakfast and assembly can return next year. A video honoring veterans in the school community was created this year and shared with students and online.

 

 The goal for this year’s can drive was 800 items, and the district surpassed that with more than 1,000 items. The first can drive years ago started off closer to 200-250 items, and the initiative has gotten bigger from there, Poland Principal Greg Cuthbertson said.

 

“Every year, this has grown,” Cuthbertson said. “It’s great to see.”

 

Cuthbertson said credit goes to teaching assistant Tracy Irwin for organizing the can drive the past several years and reading teacher Robyn Craig for working on it with Irwin. They put up posters about the can drive, make sure information and updates are included in the morning announcements and collect and count the items.

 

“I just think it’s good for the kids to see that we can help other people – especially the veterans,” Irwin said.

 

When the items were being given to Feed Our Vets, children could be heard saying how many cans they brought in toward the total, Craig said.

 

“They know that they’re increasing that number, and I think that’s important,” Craig said.

 

Events such as the Veterans Day breakfast and assembly and this year’s presentation of the donation are a chance to recognize veterans and students who have family members who are veterans, Craig said.

 

“It gives them a time to shine with their families and be proud of what their families are doing,” Craig said.

 

During the presentation of the donation on Thursday, Nov. 18, Synek spoke about how it was an honor for him to serve in the Navy and discussed the value of the freedoms people have in the United States. He also answered questions from the elementary students such as “How long do people serve in the military?” “Where is the military located?” and “Do veterans celebrate Thanksgiving?”

 

Cuthbertson said Veterans Day events are valuable for students because sometimes children take for granted the freedoms and privileges they have and the sacrifices that veterans and their families have made to make those freedoms and privileges possible. School events to honor veterans are a way to highlight that for students, he said.

 

“Anytime we can do that for kids, it’s a life lesson,” he said.

 

The can drive also teaches students that even a simple gesture can be a way to make a difference, Cuthbertson said.

 

“It’s really showing our kids that you can help others in your community just by sharing a single food item,” he said.

 

 

Richard Synek from Feed Our Vets talks to students outside


Richard Synek, founder and executive director of Feed Our Vets, speaks to Poland Central School District elementary students outside the school on Thursday, Nov. 18, during a presentation of more than 1,000 items collected through a can drive to be donated to Feed Our Vets.


 

 

Principal Greg Cuthbertson and Richard Synek from Feed Our Vets talk to students outside


From right, Poland Principal Greg Cuthbertson and Feed Our Vets Founder and Executive Director Richard Synek speak to Poland Central School District elementary students outside the school on Thursday, Nov. 18, during a presentation of more than 1,000 items collected through a can drive to be donated to Feed Our Vets.


 

 

Boxes stacked up and filled with donated items and a few American flags on top


Boxes filled with more than 1,000 items donated through a can drive are stacked up and ready to be loaded onto a Feed Our Vets truck on Thursday, Nov. 18.