St. Joseph School collects massive haul for outreach

Students at St. Joseph School in Anderson collected almost 2 tons of canned food for the Emergency Soup Kitchen. (Provided)

ANDERSON—Celebrating the 100th day of classes has become a fun tradition when many schools hold events such as “Dress like a 100-year-old Day.”

This year, however, students at St. Joseph School combined fun with good-natured competition to make a big difference for their community.

The students held a “100 Can” contest, with each grade challenged to bring in 100 cans of food to give to the Anderson Emergency Soup Kitchen.

The contest was a way to help those in need and to kick off the observance of Catholic Schools Week, said Haymee Giuliani, principal. Since St. Joseph has students through eighth grade, this would bring in roughly 800 cans of food.

First the sixth-graders started collecting food and then challenged the rest of the students to a spirited contest.

The competition took off to heights nobody could have predicted.

In just two weeks, the students had amassed 3,000 cans of food — almost 4x the original request of 100 cans per grade.

And it didn’t stop there.

The spirit of outreach was ablaze, and the food kept coming.

“One child used his birthday money to buy canned goods, another student won a contest and used the money from that, and others did extra chores,” Giuliani said. “Another student, third-grader Javier Martinez, was challenged by his mom to donate his allowance and give up playing his video games for a while and she would make a big donation. He did, and his mom … came back with a thousand cans to donate.”

Two days after reaching 3,000 cans, the students had doubled it to a whopping 6,077 cans of food. A local TV station highlighted their success. The load was so big that volunteers from the Knights of Columbus needed three trucks and two cars to transport the donations — which weighed 1.9 tons, or roughly the weight of 20 baby elephants — to the soup kitchen.

Workers at the Emergency Soup Kitchen said they have seen a huge rise in the number of clients they are serving due to the pandemic and the economy, and have recently been running out of supplies, so the students’ generosity will be a big help, Giuliani reported.

“We all enjoyed the competition, but the real winner here is the soup kitchen,” said Javier Martinez, 9, the student who gave up video games and his allowance in order to score a big donation for the needy.