Summit Academy – Lorain Elementary student Chad supports his school’s food drive with canned food donations.

Perched in front of a playful collection box nearly packed full with canned food, Summit Academy – Lorain Elementary student Chad sets a few more cans neatly in place inside the bin. No doubt he has satisfied the plea of the construction paper-crafted pup on the box that reads “Feed me, please.”

The school is hosting a two-week food drive, which runs through April 14, to help local families in need. Student and staff donations of tuna, peanut butter, pasta and other nonperishable foods will go to Lorain’s We Care We Share food pantry.

“We are grateful to partner with the pantry once again,” says school administrative assistant Jody Burnsworth. She explains that the school hosted a food drive three years ago to benefit the pantry, which in addition to providing food, supports community members with education mentoring, job searching, housing, clothing, counseling and more.

Principal Keegan Schoen says the food drive fits his school’s philosophy to teach children compassion and empathy toward others.

To give is to receive. It’s a lesson Summit Academy – Lorain Elementary students like Mercedes (pictured) are receiving (and teaching) through their school’s food drive to benefit community members in need.

The lessons have stuck.

“Many of our families come from a place of need but have always, historically, stepped up to help one another when asked,” Schoen explains. “When we, even in a small gesture give of ourselves and use that as a lesson, we are hopeful to create a moment of gratitude for what we do have.”

Dotted throughout the school, seven book-themed collection boxes created by art teacher Evan Koehler are rapidly filling up, displaying the school community’s abundant generosity. At the end of each day, members of the school’s Student Volunteer Corp (SVC) count the donations made by their respective classrooms. The classroom that tallies up the most donations will be treated to a pizza party at the end of the drive.

“Members of the SVC are students who have been selected based on their leadership roles in the classroom and school,” says Burnsworth. She adds that SVC members receive various volunteer responsibilities throughout the school, such as helping with classroom activities.

For the SVC members and entire student body, participation in the food drive may be just one of many life chapters of charity to follow.

“Hopefully we will foster a lifetime of giving in our students so that they will carry on in small ways on their own,” Schoen says.