Hayden children pitch in | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden children pitch in

Elementary students collect $500 in pennies for food bank

Blythe Terrell

— Hayden Valley Elementary School students have impressed Connie Todd.

Todd picked up a check at the school last week that amounted to nearly $500 for the Hayden Food Bank. The money came from an October penny drive organized by Tena Frentress, a para educator at the school.

“I : was really quite surprised at the amount of money they raised,” said Todd, who runs the bank with Hayden Congregational Church. “It was something we talked about last year is maybe doing a penny drive for fresh produce or fresh dairy products at the food bank, and Tena came up with the idea. It was just a great success.”

Students collected pennies as part of Red Ribbon Week, a drug-awareness program. The connection, Frentress said, is that sometimes people who have drug problems need extra help with food and other necessities.

The winning class, Zach Wuestewald’s second-graders, hauled in 39 pounds of pennies, she said. The drive brought in more than 100 pounds: $494.75, Frentress said.

“We’re pretty proud of the kids,” she said.

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Todd said she planned to use the money to buy perishable items.

“The school has always done a canned food drive every year around Christmastime, so we’ve always had plenty of canned goods in our food bank,” she said. “There always seems to be a need for milk and eggs and cheese and fresh fruits and vegetables for some of our people here in Hayden.”

The Hayden Food Bank, which operates out of the basement of the Solandt Memorial Hospital, provides food to those in need on the fourth Monday of each month. Todd said people can call her at home at 276-3459 if they need help at other times.

Todd said she hoped to stretch the penny drive money throughout six months.

“My situation varies,” she said. “Right now with the economy and layoffs, I’m seeing more families come to the food bank, so my months vary. Let’s be more realistic: It’ll probably go four months when I’m buying those items because they are a little more costly.”

Todd said the food bank doesn’t have specific needs now, adding that the church just completed a drive for personal items. People who want to donate can leave items at the Solandt, Todd said.

Hayden Food Bank operates alongside LIFT-UP in the Solandt’s basement. LIFT-UP’s Hayden office is open 9 a.m. to noon Wednesdays. Hayden residents who need help often come to the nonprofit group’s Steamboat Springs location, said Pam Graham, LIFT-UP food bank and case manager.

She said LIFT-UP and the Hayden Food Bank share a purpose.

“We both hope to serve the people there, and very often we’ll have someone who’s gotten assistance from them and then they come here to us and vice versa,” Graham said. “We kind of work together.”

LIFT-UP also accepts applications from people who need emergency assistance that goes beyond food to utility bills, for example, Graham said. Her food bank also gets donations from the school drives, she said.

Todd said she was pleased with the students’ contributions to those in need.

She said she was “thankful : that we have such giving kids in our community that just, when asked, they’re there to help out.”