Southern Regional High School’s Food Drive a Mammoth Team Effort and Labor of Love

NOT Fairly CHAOS: The Southern Regional Higher School media centre on Dec. 22 is packed with college students and instructors sorting items for the duration of the last day of the school’s yearly foods travel, a profit for the Atlantic City Rescue Mission. (Images by David Biggy)
Editor’s Notice: Past 7 days, reporter David Biggy went inside of Southern Regional Large School for a appear at its once-a-year food push to advantage the Atlantic Town Rescue Mission. This is the 1st of two sections.
Granola bars galore. Hordes of canned veggies. Towers of soups and snack food items. Circumstances of ramen fairly a lot just about everywhere. What had been the Southern Regional Higher Faculty media middle a day earlier was transformed into a mountain vary of nonperishables.
It was the day right before the 50 %-day that commonly marks the conclusion of the calendar year for college students and team of the school district, and hundreds of them were challenging at perform – accumulating, sorting, stacking, packing, re-packing and carting all the objects that experienced designed their way into the high faculty all through the once-a-year Christmas meals drive.
To say it’s become a unique party at Southern is a colossal understatement. For some, this is the key celebration of the 12 months, when the large university all but pumps the brakes on most other items and goes all out to provide a different local community most college students and personnel at the school only listen to about and never fulfill. And for the duration of the preceding 20 years, the Rams had delivered 674,434 foods products to the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, an energy lauded by the mission year soon after year.
“There’s just a thing distinctive about this higher university,” said Rescue Mission Director of Facilities Mark Ford. “I’ve been coming up below for the past 12 yrs or so, and it’s one particular of the only high universities like it. What this faculty does for the rescue mission is incredible.”
Two many years back, the faculty gathered 78,484 objects to ship with Ford and his obtaining crew back to Atlantic Metropolis, some 30 miles to the south. Sad to say, very last year’s total wasn’t anyplace around that, primarily for the reason that the school’s systems had been dialed down and only a very little additional than half the students have been attending course within both of the two higher school buildings due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
This yr, at least so much, the school’s been functioning at total capability and whole steam, and that meant the meals generate was back in complete swing as well. But to get a accurate sense of what this mammoth effort seemed like, going inside of the faculty on Wednesday, Dec. 22, was needed. So I did, and what I noticed was astonishing but not astonishing, chaotic but not nuts, major enterprise but in a pleasurable type of way, and just basic gorgeous.
Adele Berardi – the teacher who oversees the total course of action of all matters meals travel – phone calls it a “holy moment” for Southern Regional, when the heartbeat of the university district is amplified like a symphony for all to listen to. When the real character of the district shines like Barnegat Lighthouse on a foggy evening at sea.
NOT A Shock: Teacher Mike Strada’s classroom was whole of foodstuff things on the early morning of Dec. 22, right before teams of learners came all around to gather it all and convey it back again to the higher school’s media center.
But what sets the Rams aside is not just a variety of accrued products at the conclusion of the generate, or even the performance with which they carry out this feat each yr. It is substantially deeper than that. Enable me to unpack it for you.
The “Heavy Lifting” Begins
Arriving any where by 8:05 a.m. is not typical for me. But upon strolling into the media middle, it was a wake-up connect with to see upward of 100 college students sitting down around, receiving their marching orders for classroom collection from math teacher extraordinaire Kathy Cornelius, who’s been section of the food stuff push since its inception.
“What happens with this is truly a fruits of a enormous energy by the instructors and their unique classrooms,” she instructed me afterwards in the working day. “There are a large amount of individuals included in earning this what it is, but it commences with the college students and their instructors, accomplishing their section on the entrance conclusion.”
As Cornelius handed off lists of school rooms from which to acquire things, my 1st quest was to be a part of just one of the teams to do so. The first crew out of the media heart incorporated Jake Cornelius, Alex Wyrsch, Matt Krinic and his young brothers, Aiden and Jonah. We went to the classroom of new Southern science instructor Eric Geddes, somewhere on the second floor of the creating.
“It’s a wonderful exercise with a fantastic trigger,” mentioned Matt Krinic, a senior who’s been aiding with the food stuff push because his freshman calendar year. “It’s a large amount of operate, but you get to hold out with your pals all working day for one thing which is going to reward a good deal of individuals. There is a lot of major lifting, but it is not about me or any of us. There are a large amount of people in need to have out there, so we’re performing our part to support them. It’s the right factor to do and a little something we do seriously very well below.”
It did not just take long just before the halls were being teeming with duos, trios and quartets of students, bringing a wide range of wheeled apparatus with them – in various situations, some of them pushed or pulled their mates sitting down on or inside those autos – to collect every single ounce of food stuff in a box, bag, jar or can in the constructing.
Gabby Bates ran via a single corridor while pulling Shannon Flaherty on a cart, heading to some classroom, when Garrett Sheeran, Andy Falletta and Ryan Brown applied a significant, wheeled bin to tote greater and heavier products back again to the media centre. Teams of women went this way. Groups of boys went that way. And poor Chloe Furlong acquired stuck manning the elevator, so the elevator crucial didn’t require to be hunted down each and every time a crew experienced to go up or down concerning floors.
Inevitably, it was also dizzying to retain enjoy of all the groups of pupils trekking the halls, so I went back to the media middle. I probably should really have stayed in the halls since the scene inside of the media middle was a nightmare for somebody inclined to motion sickness.
Let us GET IT: Alex Wyrsch pushes Jake Cornelius in a bin as they staff with Matt Krinic to retrieve merchandise from school rooms on Dec. 22, the last day of Southern Regional’s annual food drive.
There, as bins, cans and baggage of points ended up dropped off, dozens of learners and teachers unpacked all that things and sorted them by variety into stacks and bundles that towered atop the bookshelves and tables together the perimeter of the room or made en masse on the ground along with individuals shelves and tables.
“What has to be performed?” I questioned trainer Katie Kubarewicz, a frequent flyer for the food travel.
“We have to get all the things on the flooring sorted out, so just seize anything down there and unload it onto the tables, and the college students will kind them into containers,” Kubarewicz defined.
At the time most of the bagged goods were being off the ground and on to the tables, the following action was to get all the canned goods into containers. It didn’t support my knees substantially to get on the flooring to help the students now down there, but that is what required to be completed. Some 40 minutes later on, all the learners amassing objects from school rooms experienced concluded the undertaking, most of the things that had been on the flooring had a house, and a crowd of college students feverishly packed packing containers and luggage at the tables in the heart of the area.
By midday, all the canned items were being in a single area, all the boxed things in a different. All the bags were being established off to one particular facet and all the ramen, very easily 50 instances – my gosh, it was nauseating thinking about the likelihood of consuming it all – had been settled onto of the shelves in the jap part of the home.
“Normal” and “Heartwarming”
“The foods generate is my most most loved time of the yr,” stated senior Emma Wasacz, who also has been helping out due to the fact her freshman year, but potentially is far better identified for her great harmony beam routines with the gymnastics workforce rather than hanging among ramen. “It’s generally great to see how a lot will come in and how everyone comes together to get it all packed up and completely ready to supply to the rescue mission. Previous 12 months, we couldn’t do this to the similar amount we had been in previous decades, but this seems to be typical correct now.”
Appropriately dressed in a seriously cool Santa-sort outfit that working day, Emma expounded on the specialness of the food push.
“With so numerous awful items going on the environment, it’s so heartwarming to be a section of this, to see it all take place. There are a ton of superior persons concerned, much too. We’re all perspiring a minimal little bit, having a very little sore, but it is all great … whatsoever we can do to make somebody’s day a very little greater in some way.”
LOAD ’EM UP: Southern pupils pack the several cans that arrived for the food items drive into boxes.
In fact, numerous “good people” are concerned. Berardi calls them the heroes and heroines, the angels, the selfless, tireless employee bees – folks like Kubarewicz and instructor Mike Strada, both of whom spent large portions of their early morning unpacking goods and serving to type, or Bob MacMaster, who assisted coordinate the sorting and packaging endeavours inside of the media middle, among many others.
“Every 12 months, we have a ton of persons who give so a great deal to make the food drive for the rescue mission a massive point,” Berardi reported, also noting the National Honor Society’s effort and hard work to built foodstuff baskets for area households – 65 had been in bins sitting down in the foyer region around the principal place of work. “It is not me. I just organize some matters and observe it all transpire. Kathy’s been carrying out this because the starting. Bob is so wonderful with the college students in obtaining every thing packed up. Katie loves carrying out this, and Mike is a good illustration of the guys we have listed here. We get a great deal of assistance from so a lot of people. It is really awesome to see how a lot they give, all to make a variance, in some way, in anyone else’s daily life.
“And all the learners … this is what holiness looks like to me. We can not have all the young ones, but we get a seriously huge quantity of them, which is excellent. Some of the older kids are below for the total working day, main the young types on what we’re doing. It is amazing.”
Even students who have graduated return to the college to support. J.T Cornelius, Ben Hanneman, Kayce Bennet, Erika Barbera and Alex Mattner were being provided the income that experienced been  donated and tasked with buying for added things earlier in the 7 days, and in the media center on Dec. 22 was Hank Gallacher – throughout his semester crack from Chestnut Hill College – initially sorting and stacking objects on shelves, then wielding the packing tape dispenser as he secured boxes of canned products.
WHO’S THAT Dude?: Hank Gallacher, who graduated last yr, stacks food items within the Southern Regional Higher Faculty media heart.
“I read the food items travel assortment was taking place now, so I brought in my cans and Mrs. Cornelius place me correct to perform, and I’m happy to enable,” Gallacher said, admiring the mountains of foodstuff surrounding us as we briefly chatted. “Some of these young children don’t know who I am, and I really don’t know them, but we’re all right here serving to just about every other get this finished. Everyone understands why we’re here, and it’s a magical thing.”
Excellent Difficulties to Have
As most of the college students who had been encouraging in the course of the morning commenced breaking for lunch – and, I visualize, some of their lessons – the responsibilities associated with the foodstuff generate started off to change a bit.
Now that almost everything was sorted, it all had to be reloaded on to some type of cart or equipment so it could be wheeled into the 11/12 gymnasium the next working day for the annual Xmas assembly, the function that officially finishes December as the college heads into its vacation break.
“So, wait around … all this is likely to be brought into the fitness center tomorrow?” I asked Berardi, who affirmed with a nod. “Yikes.”
As the Krinic brothers and a 50 %-dozen of their peers began setting bins and bigger conditions of goods on to carts, yet another team of about a dozen pupils entered the media middle. This was heading to be the “repacking” crew, whose endeavor was to uncover all the remaining free things, as well as individuals packaged in flimsy chipboard containers – consider cereal, taco kits, oatmeal, Pop Tarts, mac and cheese, and so on. – and get them into bins, so they could be reloaded onto carts and much easier to load into the rescue mission’s vans.
Most likely 20 minutes into that period of the operation, the initial of several troubles arose.
“Mrs. Berardi, we really don’t have adequate packing containers!” shouted one particular university student.
About 15 minutes later on: “Mrs. Berardi, are there any far more carts?” a further scholar questioned.
About 20 minutes right after that: “Mrs. Berardi, do we have any far more packing tape?”
What’s Subsequent?: Instructors Bob MacMaster and Kathy Cornelius go above the designs to pack foodstuff things with Gianna Giglioli in the course of the ultimate working day of Southern’s once-a-year food travel.
“I acquired $60 worthy of of packing tape yesterday,” Berardi claimed to me. “I just sent two students to Costco and BJ’s for boxes, and I’ve set a phone out to all corners of the campus, just about every office, for far more carts. I guess these are superior troubles to have. I can’t wait to see what the remaining range is tomorrow.”
By 2 p.m., as most of the college students have been putting the finishing touches on some boxes – far more of them, along with extra points with wheels, arrived by 1 p.m. and just one of the Krinic young children managed to scrounge a couple rolls of packing tape from the guidance office environment, of all places – carts, bins, even huge trash cans on wheels have been comprehensive and lined up alongside the partitions of the corridor foremost to the media center and all through the inside of.
The get the job done of hundreds of Rams experienced been finished for the working day. On Thursday, Dec. 23, throughout the Xmas assembly, all people else not named Kathy Cornelius would study how substantially the Atlantic Metropolis Rescue Mission was heading to get this yr.
“I have the selection now, but it is heading to change by tomorrow,” she said. “We’re going to get stuff suitable up until the time the boys track team is loading the vehicles. There is no joke about this. Our school will take this severely, and it is reflective in the amount of time and work presented these days. With this becoming a COVID world right now and a lot of individuals battling out there, I was type of holding my breath a very little. But someway, this group still comes through. They by no means disappoint.”
But was it a file-breaking effort?
“You’ll locate out tomorrow,” she mentioned.
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