For 14 years in a row, GTC students have held this food drive founded by SkillsUSA adviser Mike Howard. Since its inception, the project has gone national, said SkillsUSA adviser and medical skills instructor Diana Kendrick.
“Schools all over the USA are doing this and it started here at Griffin Tech,” she said.
SkillsUSA is a national partnership of students, teachers and industry representatives who work together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. Through SkillsUSA, GTC holds a community project each quarter. The Thanksgiving food drive is always the project for fall quarter.
Last year, the food drive fed more than 400 families, said SkillsUSA adviser and cosmetology instructor Kimberly Rawlins. This year, students collected 2,873.82 pounds of food — the most ever, organizers believe.
“We send the food to First Baptist Church and they put it into their food pantry, then dole it out to the different families,” Kendrick said. “We know right now, with so many jobs lost and everything, there is a greater need for food. Everybody at Griffin Tech really got behind this.”
Students also had a big incentive. The food drive is a campus-wide contest. A pizza party is awarded to the day and evening class that collects the most pounds of food per student.
Although cosmetology student Troy Smith felt certain it would be his department because of the duffel bag full of food he brought in, it was radiology seniors who blew away all competition in the day classes and overall by collecting 786.4 pounds of food, which averaged out to 32.8 pounds of food per student.
The winner for the evening class was not available at press time and, although they were not eligible for a pizza party, the admissions office staff members, with 138.6 pounds of food, beat out all of the other GTC offices.
“All we asked was that the food be nonperishable and that it can help a family,” Kendrick said. “We tried to discourage that it be like 50-pound bags of flour or 50-pound bags of beans because that really doesn’t work for a family. But sometimes students get overzealous and bring the big stuff in and that’s fine because their competitive spirit kicks in. But I think we’ve done really well this year. We’ve got everything from water to beans. There’s flour and sugar this time and baby food was even included.”
One lucky family will even get some moon pies.