Mattanawcook Junior High School fifth-graders came up big for the food banks of Lincoln and Chester this holiday season by raising $6,280 — enough to buy about $40,000 worth of food and toiletries for area families, officials said Sunday.
The students of teachers Betty Bickford, Dan Laverty, Tracie Murchison, Diana Ouellette and Melissa O’Hara raised the money through a yard sale at the Lincoln school’s gymnasium, a letter-writing campaign to Lincoln Lakes region businesses and individual donations, Bickford said.
The schoolwide money collection raised $2,200; the letters, $2,400; and the yard sale, $1,680. Of the $6,280, the Chester Baptist Church Food Cupboard received $2,067 and the Lincoln Regional Food Cupboard got $4,133, said Melvin Voisine, the Lincoln cupboard’s director.
The total is the highest yet raised by students and staff of the school, which serves the RSU 67 communities of Chester, Lincoln and Mattawamkeag. This was the fourth year of student fundraising for the cupboard, Bickford said.
“I am really pleased with the kids being aware that there are people who need their help. When you are that age, you don’t always think of those things,” Voisine said Sunday. “We are lucky in this town that people do respond.”
“The kids came up big for us,” he added. “Even if it is just $10, it can make a big difference.”
Buying the food through the Good Shepherd Food Bank, Voisine said, allows food banks such as his and the Baptist Church’s the buying power of $6 or $7 for every $1 donated.
The students’ donation will stock the Lincoln food cupboard, which is at 32 Park Ave., with enough food to last five or six weeks. The cupboard serves about 150 Lincoln families, Voisine said. It gets donations of about $30,000 annually.
Ruth Perry, one of the organizers of the Chester food bank, did not immediately return a telephone message left Sunday.
Bickford said she and the school’s staff and students were gratified at receiving so many donations from region businesses and individuals. The school turned over the funds it raised on Dec. 21.
The community outreach effort is designed, she said, to encourage students to look beyond themselves and find things to do that can benefit others.
Student “responses are like, ‘It makes my heart full. It is hard to believe we can make such a difference.’ These are the things that kids say,” Bickford said.
The students next fundraisers, Bickford said, might benefit the town’s animal shelter and the town’s home-heating fund. Voisine encouraged other donators to mail checks or money orders to Lincoln RFC, care of P.O. Box 684, Lincoln, 04457.
Donations of clothes, gifts, small household appliances and canned foods are also welcome at the shelter at 32 Park Ave., he said.