By Curt Yeomans
Two weeks after Clayton County Board of Education officials said their holiday collection drive was slow to gain momentum, school board Chairperson Alieka Anderson said there has been a dramatic change, and the drive is now exceeding expectations.
The school board launched the food drive last month, to collect enough food to feed three families of needy Clayton County Public Schools students. The board's goal was to collect enough non-perishable food donations to fill a collection box twice.
Two weeks into the food drive, the box was only half-way full, Anderson said.
The board had the collection box moved to a more prominent place in the school system's central office, in Jonesboro.
On Monday, Anderson said the collection drive quickly turned, and it is now being filled for a third time. She said people have donated everything from canned food, to turkeys.
"We got enough turkeys donated to feed four, to six families," Anderson said. "We've got more than enough food."
The school board will continue, until Dec. 3, to collect food to give to families of needy students in the school system. Any non-perishable food items, ranging from canned food, to boxes of sugar and flour, are being sought, school board members have said.
The food will be presented to families, selected by the school system, during the school board's Dec. 6, business meeting.
Anderson said the turnaround in the food drive, came about, in part, because of a Clayton News Daily report, on Nov. 9, that chronicled how the drive had gotten off to a sluggish start.
"A week later," she said. "They [school system officials] called me up and were like, 'Dr. Anderson, you won't believe this, but we've got a ton of food now. The box has been filled up, and we've had to put crates out to hold the overflow.'"
Anderson said large donations came in from school system central office employees, school-level employees, school community liaisons, and officials from the City of Riverdale. She said Riverdale officials have pledged to donate three turkeys, and community liaisons have donated two turkeys.
Anderson added the community liaisons also donated "nearly a truckload" of non-perishable food items. Parents also donated food at school board meetings, the school board chairperson said.
"It's great to see Clayton County come together, and help people who are in need of our assistance," Anderson said. "Nobody can say Clayton County can't band together and do great things."
School board members are also contributing to the drive by making financial donations of $20 per member, to purchase perishable food items, including turkeys. Anderson said with so many turkeys being donated, however, the board might be able to use that money, instead, to buy grocery store gift certificates for families who receive the donated food.
Anderson said the school board is looking for community volunteers to help sort, and divide up the donated food items for families, on Dec. 4, at 10 a.m., at the Clayton County Public Schools Central Administration Complex, which is located at 1058 Fifth Ave., in Jonesboro. She said the board is also open, now, to donations of baskets, to hold the donated food when it is presented to families.
Anyone who would like to donate food or baskets for the collection drive, can bring those items to the school system's central office.
People who would still like to donate food, or to volunteer to help divide up the food, can call school board secretary, Arlecia Battle, at (770) 473-2966.
"This is going to be a great Christmas surprise for some needy Clayton County families," Anderson said.