TOWN OF BELOIT - More than 1,000 food items were donated to Caritas on Wednesday by Powers Elementary School students, their families and staff members.
The annual food drive brought in that many nonperishable food items in the span of just one week, from Oct. 29 - Nov. 2. Mia Laursen, special education teacher, said she expects about 80 percent of the students donated to the food drive.
She has organized the drive at Powers for almost every year for about the last 20 years.
"I always thought it was important to teach children how to give to the less fortunate," Laursen said.
Each child who donated was recognized by being able to write their name on a paper leaf to be placed on the "giving tree" on a wall near the entrance of the school. She also involves her special needs students, who collect the cans from each classroom.
Thinking of ways to incentivize the students and to show the school's appreciation for their donations, she decided to throw a popcorn party for the wining room.
Her extra incentive appears to have paid off. Beth Towns' 4K class collected 99 items, about 10 percent of the total.
Laursen said there's only been a few times in the last 20 years where the school has been able to collect more than 1,000 food items.
"There are years we struggle to get 700," Laursen said. "It's amazing how much you can get."
Laursen said she does the food drive in early November is because she asks for items used in Thanksgiving meals, making sure families have enough time to collect all the items before Thanksgiving.
She plans to keep the food drive going, perhaps even having a bigger goal next year.