Annunciation Catholic School student Elizabeth Vernier didn’t mind a little manual labor on Monday, especially if it meant getting out of class and helping the needy.
“Don’t tell anyone, but rather than school, I like being out here helping the community,” she said.
Vernier and other students at Annunciation spent Monday loading food onto the school’s activity bus for a short drive to the Havelock-Cherry Point Ministerial Outreach food pantry.
Students struggled passing large bags and boxes of food down the line as part of the school’s Fill the Bus campaign. Every seat on the bus had bags and boxes of food, some of which also occupied the walkway.
“I honestly thought we were only going to fill half of it,” student Maria Howard said. “I was really surprised. We had gotten the bus pretty much filled, and then I saw more food. I thought, ‘oh my goodness.’”
Howard and Vernier are part of the school’s Interact Club, a youth group associated with the Havelock-Cherry Point Rotary Club. The students started what they thought would be a simple food drive, but momentum over the need for donations at the pantry turned the effort into an all-out campaign to fill the bus.
“It’s great,” said Vernier, president of the Interact group. “As Catholics, we strive to do the best we can to help out our local communities, so us doing this, it makes us feel good and it’s something good for Havelock.”
The food was delivered in time for Thanksgiving.
“I’ve never been worried about not having a Thanksgiving,” Vernier said. “It really tweaks your heartstrings when you think about those who really don’t have any food, and the pantry being completely empty, we were very happy to bring the bus full of food.”
Carolyn Mewborn, who oversees the food pantry, said 150 families came in for food in October, and she said November, December and January are normally the busiest months for the pantry.
“It couldn’t have come at a better time,” she said of the donations. “It’s wonderful. We have had so many people come in to get food.”
Mewborn said the effort to fill the bus impressed her.
“I wasn’t sure they were going to be able to do it, but it looks like they have,” she said. “It’s just wonderful.”
The pantry is located at Suite 20 of the East Plaza and is open from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Call 447-5190 for more information.