Local schools come together to collect food for pantry

HARLINGEN – The food drive started as a slow trickle, but over the next few days a flood of canned goods began pouring into the school.

“Sometimes we had six-year-olds dragging the bags into the office because they wanted to do their part,” said Minnie Ramirez, principal at Bonham Elementary.

Yesterday, Bonham Elementary was recognized for collecting the most canned goods for the Harlingen Neighborhood Food Pantry. All 17 elementary schools in the Harlingen school district participated. Yesterday, at the food pantry, they were congratulated for collecting 9,115 pounds of nonperishable canned goods.

Boxes and crates sat in front of the pantry filled with pinto beans, corn, Ramen noodles, Vienna sausages, potted meat and other foods.

“It’s absolutely unbelievable,” said Jim Coffman, director of the food pantry behind the Church of Christ at 801 E. Harrison Ave.

“I can’t thank the schools enough for their participation,” Coffman said.

The pantry serves members of the local community on Wednesdays and Fridays, said Frieda Barnes, a volunteer for the food pantry which is open Wednesdays and Fridays. Those wishing to obtain food must prove they are Harlingen residents and register. They are given a card which they must show when they obtain food. There are limits on how often they can visit the pantry.

The food drive was a challenge from Ruben Treviño, human services specialist for the Edna Tamayo House. The facility is a halfway house for juveniles, and it’s part of the Texas Juvenile Justice System. The food drive was this year’s Global Youth Service Day project for the Edna Tamayo House.

Treviño was surprised by the food drive’s success.

“My goal was 5,000 pounds,” he said, his eyes widening as he looked at the groceries.

“We gave these kids the opportunity to learn and give back to the community,” he said.

Treviño was visibly pleased as he spoke to principals, Superintendent Art Cavazos and other school administrators at the food pantry. Several food pantry volunteers also were present.

“I want to thank each and every one of you who joined us to do our big mission,” Treviño said. He held three plaques. One was awarded to Lamar Elementary for collecting 1,750 pounds of food. Crockett was recognized for collecting 1,800 pounds. Everyone let loose with sounds of surprise and congratulations as Treviño announced Bonham had taken first place for collecting 1,820 pounds.

Ramirez had no idea Bonham had collected the most goods, and she was caught totally by surprise. She couldn’t rave enough on her students.

“I am so proud of them,” she said. “They really took this to heart. They wanted to help out. They would bring by the big loads.”

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