By Johnny Jackson
Stockbridge High School is competing against Woodland High School in a venue that does not require physical prowess or talent - charity.
The two Stockbridge schools are challenging each other to raise donations of canned foods and non-perishable items in a collective effort to help a local food pantry.
On Sept. 16, Helping in His Name Ministries, Inc. Food Pantry in Stockbridge suffered a loss of $13,000 worth in food and supplies (6,500 pounds), when thieves stole the pantry's box, delivery truck.
"It's a friendly competition between the two schools," said Eric Watson, principal at Stockbridge High. "I don't think there's going to be a winner or loser. The food pantry is going to be the winner in this. We're just going to try to get as much going as we can."
This most recent effort to recoup the pantry's losses was spearheaded by Beth Anne Higgins, Stockbridge High's school social worker.
"As a school social worker, part of my job is helping families access needed resources or services," Higgins said. " Helping in His Name Ministries, Inc. Food Pantry has helped every family I have referred to them. They have provided food to parents that literally had nothing to feed their family, and they help the families with a gracious spirit.
"I have gone to pick up food for families who did not have transportation, and I was just impressed at how genuinely concerned the workers there were about the families and how everyone was treated with the utmost respect."
She partnered up with Tonya Holmes, an assistant principal at Woodland High, and a former school social worker, to put on the competition to see which of the high schools could raise the most in donations.
Through Friday, the school's will be collecting donations of canned foods and non-perishable items. Space has been designated at each school's front office where there is a large blue barrel to collect items.
"I would really like the students to get involved and excited about helping rebuild the food pantry," Higgins said. "I know how fulfilling it is to give back to the community and serve others. I just want the students to get the chance to experience that. I hope we can bring in a ton of food."
The pantry has steadily increased its clientele over the past year, particularly in the past few months, due to economic hardships now facing many families. This year, alone, the pantry has served hundreds of families, or more than 24,000 different clients.
"We've always done food drives in some form or fashion," added Principal Watson. "I think we're looking to do it as an annual drive."
Stockbridge High School is located at 1151 Old Conyers Road in Stockbridge, and Woodland High School is located at 800 N. Moseley Drive in Stockbridge. For more about Helping in His Name Ministries, Inc., Food Pantry, visit Online or call (678) 565-6135.
On the net:
Helping in His Name Food Pantry: www.helpinginhisname.org