Students donate food just in time for Christmas

BALDWIN — Christmas is the time for giving, and many of Lake County's youngest residents have taken that to heart.

On Dec. 19, the students of Baldwin Elementary School made a large donation of food to the Bread of Life Food Pantry in Baldwin.

The donations were part of the elementary school's PAWS program. Each month this program focuses on a different virtue or issue which students can learn about to improve their lives and the lives of others.

"PAWS was created to develop different character traits in elementary school," said Rob Dennis, the school's Behavior and Intervention Specialist. "The month of December had the theme of 'giving,' so we raised money for the food pantry."

Different monthly themes for PAWS includes varying topics such as respect, manners, exercise or safety. The lesson of giving is one pantry director Susan Brown-Havens said she is happy the students are learning.

"There are at least 10 big things kids need to learn in school. One of them is to give, not just receive," said Brown-Havens. "I think the Baldwin Community Schools are doing a wonderful job of teaching them that."

More than 1,100 items were brought in by the elementary school students for the Bread of Life Pantry, which was founded on the ideals of helping people meet their most basic needs through the goodness of their neighbors.

"It's a spirit of ecumenism from people of all faiths with a common thread of feeding their fellow man," said Brown-Havens. "We might need the services of a food pantry. All of these people in the community who volunteer here or give are in some way showing their love for their fellow man."

This attitude was among the reasons Dennis and his fellow staff members decided the pantry was the most logical choice to help teach the children about giving.

"We thought it was a good giving program for the kids," said Dennis. "Last year we gave to the Red Cross, so this year we wanted to keep it local."

Another donation of food was also collected during the week, this time by the high school's National Honor Society. The members brought in an additional 300 items of food,

Brown-Havens said this was such a fantastic showing of kindness and it's especially meaningful during the Christmas season.

"I'm so proud to be from Baldwin, and I'm proud there are so many families in this community who give and teach the true meaning of Christmas and charity," remarked Brown-Havens. "The pantry and all of its volunteers would like to say 'thank you' from the bottoms of our hearts."

The pantry is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m on Wednesdays. It will be closed on Dec. 24 for Christmas Eve, but will reopen the following week on Dec. 31.