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Cascade food drive

May 13, 2002|BY SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Cascade Elementary School students collected and donated more pounds of food per student than any other school in Maryland in a recent drive.

The Cascade students were encouraged by a puppet and the possibility of their principal milking a cow. It may have helped that last year's students got to watch their principal kiss a pig when the school met a food drive goal.

The accomplishment is pretty amazing, said Jessica Weissenbach, vice president of the school's parent-teacher association.

"I think it is significant. I think it speaks volumes about our students and our population," said Principal Tim Abe.

"But being principal here for two years, it should come as no surprise. I would have expected as much. The community and the parents step up to the plate to meet whatever goals are set," he said.

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Weissenbach agreed. "I think it's a giving community," she said.

The school, which has fewer than 200 students, collected 1,173 pounds of food.

The average student donated 6.3 pounds of food.

"That is a pretty big bag of food," said Teresa Ernst, special events director for the Maryland Food Bank. She and others involved in the food drive were impressed by the ratio, she said. The donated food went to organizations that are part of the Maryland Food Bank, including the local Food Resources Inc., she said.

The food collected during the Oct. 22 to Nov. 9 drive was for the 2001 Harvest For the Hungry "Kids Helping Kids" food drive, an annual event.

At a May 1 ceremony, Maryland Schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick honored Cascade Elementary for having the most pounds per student collected.

That category was added to the 14-year-old food drive in 2001 as a way to let schools with smaller enrollment levels receive recognition instead of having the focus be on the larger schools honored for bringing in the highest total pounds of food, Abe said.

Grasmick said at the ceremony that she thought the new category was a great way to honor deserving schools such as Cascade, according to Abe.

Abe, Weissenbach and other adults involved in the school attended the ceremony, as did Weissenbach's children, first-grader Ana Weissenbach and second-grader Ben Weissenbach.

The Weissenbach children helped Carolyn Stotler, the school parent involvement assistant, collect the cans from each classroom at the end of the day, count them and put them in boxes.

Ben Weissenbach said he enjoyed the work.

The food drive is a good idea, Ana added.

"It helps people in the community that don't have much food ... and might not have much money to buy food," she said.

Cascade Elementary receives Title I funding. Title I is a federally-funded program that provides financial assistance to help low-achieving students in high-poverty schools meet high-quality standards of performance.

But the Title 1 status isn't really a factor when it comes to fund-raising and other charitable acts, Abe said. You couldn't tell Cascade is a Title 1 school from the actions of the parents and families, he said.

"It has never been a barrier," Abe said.

During the televised announcements each morning in the school, a puppet named Cool Cat reminded students about the food drive and suggested they bring in cans of food.

But there was another incentive.

In a food drive in 2000, students were promised that Abe would kiss a pig if they collected at least 500 cans of food during the annual drive. They did and he puckered up and kissed the pig. Twice.

For the 2001 drive, students were told that if they collected 1,000 cans of food, he would milk a cow by hand. They collected more than 1,000 cans but the school found it was harder than expected to find a cow that he could milk by hand, Abe said.

There was then a plan for him to have lunch with two goats, he said. But the goats were later sold.

Parents are trying to think of some other activity for him to do to reward the students next year, Abe said.

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