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BOE's food drive slow to gain momentum

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Halfway through its efforts to collect food for homeless families, the Clayton County Board of Education is only one-quarter of the way toward meeting its goal of collecting enough food to fill a four-foot-tall collection box twice, according to the board's chairperson.

The school board is asking the community to donate non-perishable food items to help the board provide large holiday meals to three families of homeless Clayton County Public Schools students. When it was announced in late October, school board members said they wanted to collect enough food to give meals to families, during a board meeting on Dec. 6.

On Monday, School Board Chairperson Alieka Anderson said the effort is short of its goal. "We're asking people [to] look in your heart and give what you can ... Please think about how you can help other people," she pleaded. "The more food we get, the more we'll be able to give to these families."

Interested patrons have until Dec. 3, to donate food, Anderson said; but there are not as many collection days left as it might seem. The school system's offices will be closed from Nov. 22, to Nov. 26, for the Thanksgiving holiday. The closure means there are only 14 business days left for people to drop off food at the Clayton County Public Schools Central Administration Complex, located at 1058 Fifth Ave., in Jonesboro.

Board members were expected to each donate $20 to help buy food, and Anderson said almost everyone on the board has already made their financial contribution. She added that school board member, Trinia Garrett, has pledged to buy a turkey for one of the families.

So far, people have been donating food items both at school board meetings, and by going to the school system's central office during office hours on weekdays, said School Board Secretary Arlecia Battle, on Monday. She said an exact number of items donated has yet to be determined, because people have been dropping off items by packing them in groups.

"Some people have donated cases of canned food, and others have dropped off plastic bags filled with food," she said.

Battle said the collection box has been moved out of the school board's meeting room, and into the main lobby of the district's central office. She said the box was moved to make it more convenient for people.

"You see, our board room is locked during the week, so they'd have to call me whenever they wanted to drop their food off," Battle said. "Now that it's been moved, instead of calling me, they can just drop it off in the box."