By Curt Yeomans
The Clayton County Board of Education is seeking community support for a project designed to provide holiday meals for three needy families -- of students -- in the county's school system, according to the board's chairperson.
Alieka Anderson said the board will officially kick off the campaign to collect food for the families, at its work session, on Oct. 25. Non-perishable food items will be collected, primarily at board meetings, until the beginning of December. In addition to next week's work session, the board is also scheduled to meet on Nov. 1, and Nov. 15.
Anderson said the food will be presented to the families at the board's Dec. 6 meeting. The families will be chosen by the school system's homeless liaison, she said.
Anderson, who is overseeing the project, said board members are contributing as well, by donating $20 each, to buy perishable items, including turkeys, collard greens, and sweet potatoes. She said board members had been talking about doing a project, such as this, since last Christmas.
"We were just thinking that we buy gifts for everybody at Christmas, so why not do something for someone less fortunate, instead," she said. "It was a board decision to do this."
Anderson said that although she will formally announce the beginning of the food collection next week, during a point-of-order at the board's work session, people can begin donating food right away. She said food should be dropped off at the Clayton County Public Schools Central Administration Complex, which is located at 1058 Fifth Ave., in Jonesboro.
"We would like them to bring the food on Oct. 25, but if they want to bring it by this week, that will be fine," she said. The work session is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., according to the school system's web site.
In addition to canned foods, the school board's chairperson said the board will accept donations of flour and sugar, so the families have everything they need to prepare a holiday meal.
She added that School Superintendent Edmond Heatley has committed to having a drop-off box set up in the central office. He and School Board Secretary Arlecia Battle have also expressed an interest in donating money, although board members will have to discuss that on Oct. 25, Anderson said.
Several board members, on Tuesday, said they are excited to be doing this activity this year. "It really doesn't have to do with our jobs as school board members, but it does have to do with our jobs as public servants, and coming together as a board, to do something good for the community," said board member, Pamela Adamson.
"I think it's a good gesture, and gives us another focus that we have not thought about before," added vice chairperson, Ophelia Burroughs.
"It's really something good that anybody should do," said board member, Jessie Goree. "It's time for us to give back. It's human nature to give back to someone less fortunate."
Board members said they would like to see a high level of participation from the community, with the number of cans collected going into the hundreds.
Anderson said there is an incentive for the board to collect several hundred non-perishable food items: It can increase the number of families receiving food.
"Maybe, if we get more than enough food, maybe we can feed more than three families who are in need," she said.
For more information on the food-collection project, call Anderson, at (770) 317-2749, or the board's secretary, at (770) 473-2966.