JACKSON TWP. It was a bright, sunny morning in Jackson Township on April 30 as the buses from the 18 school districts from Stark, Tuscarawas, Wayne and Summit counties lined up to deliver food donations to the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank.
It was for the annual Hunger: The Bus Stops Here campaign. Students and staff from the 18 districts and from the Stark County Education Service Center (SCESC) - which includes Jackson, North Canton, Lake and Green - collected food and monetary donations for the annual fundraiser.
"We help coordinate this event every year as a way to help our students and families in our county and surrounding counties," SCESC Director of Business Opportunities Tamra Hurst said. "There’s always some friendly competition among the schools when collecting food and donations which is really a good thing. We appreciate the participation of all the districts every year."
The buses from the districts met in the parking lot of the Faith Family Church on Freedom Avenue and traveled to the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank in caravan style to deliver the food.
This is the second year the school districts have come together for a single fundraising initiative. The event is part of the Harvest for Hunger Campaign to fight hunger. Each district collected nonperishable food items to try to stuff at least one of their school buses full of donations.
In total, 22 school buses caravanned their way up I-77 to drop off the donations. The fundraising efforts from this year’s campaign netted more than 41,300 pounds of food. Together with the financial contributions, the donations will help the Foodbank provide its network of hunger-relief programs with more than 68,850 meals. Stark County ESC increased its pounds donated by more than 10 percent this year.
"The tremendous support by the Stark County ESC, their member school districts and their students is a perfect representation of peers helping peers," Dan Flowers, president and CEO of the Foodbank said in a published statement. "The largest demographic of individuals impacted by hunger in our eight-county service area are those under the age of 18. The generous spirit of giving is evident in this collaboration, and we are grateful for this partnership."