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Principal suffers as local food bank overflows

Written on January 31st, 2011

A passionate Leafs fan, principal Nick Geleynse had to spend a painful day last Friday wearing Montreal Canadiens paraphernalia.

It came about for good reason, though, and so Geleynse was quite happy in spite of it all.

Early last month the principal of Clinton and District Christian School challenged each class to raise as many food items as the combined ages of all the people in their group.

For the entire school, this amounted to about 1,600 items.

The goal was to donate the food to a local food bank, run by a friend of Geleynse, who had confided about the need for food, especially in January, when donations go down while demand skyrockets.

While the school has run food drives in the past, the goal was to go “over the top” with this one, considering the need.

Geleynse added some extra incentive and promised he would undertake a number of suggested actions if the school met its target.

The students immediately leaped to the challenge of collecting the food items.

In some cases, they raided the family pantries, unbeknownst to their parents, who would later be looking for some canned good for supper and find it had vanished.

In other cases, parents and students went out shopping together, the students using their own cash.

They had lessons in quality, as the students picked food that was cheap and parents reminded them that “they wouldn’t necessarily eat that, so why should they expect others to.”

“There was literally a mountain of food in our front hallway here at school,” says Geleynse. “It just piled up and just grew and grew and grew. It was quite incredible to see that, and the energy it created in the school here.”

Every morning, Grade 7 and 8 students traversed the halls with a grocery cart to collect any newly donated items.

The principal says students seemed to be really grabbed by the notion they have been blessed with so much, there’s a real need in the community and they could do something about it.

“Part of our mission as a school here talks very clearly about helping our children understand their responsibility towards the community that we live in,” he says, noting that one of the beautiful things about working in a Christian school is being able to really understand and speak to why they did this.

“We have been blessed, and God calls us to share that blessing with others,” he says.

In the end, the school collected more than 2,000 items.

While the original plan had been to pile the goods on sleds and pull them over the snow to the food bank, so much came in they decided to use a school bus instead.

The Grade 7 and 8 students helped load and unload the items, getting a first-hand look into what the food bank is all about, and realizing again how much they’ve been blessed, says the principal.

The school received a thank-you card from the food bank, which noted that its cupboards had been bare, but they now have enough food to last till April.

As for what Geleynse was tasked with, in addition to wearing the garb of a less favourite hockey team, he gained a new hair-do, complete with the school’s new colours and initials from the school’s new name as of next September — HCS for Huron Christian School.

He is also tasked with running the Terry Fox event next year, wearing the new school uniform and sporting a similar hair-do, complete with colour and numbers.