One Orange County Public School is going above and beyond its goals to help those in need.
Summerlake Elementary School recently raised over $11,000 for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida through its virtual food drive.
Second Harvest is a a private, non-profit organization that collects, stores and distributes donated food to more than 550 feeding partners in six Central Florida counties.
Summerlake Elementary School PTO Vice President Veronica Solarz said the virtual food drive began last year due to COVID-19 restrictions where volunteers could not be on campus.
"We didn’t want a food collection falling on the teachers and staff that were already going above and beyond the call of duty during the first few months of school," Solarz said. "Especially being a brand new school last year. So I started looking for different options and found that Second Harvest offered a virtual option and I loved it."
Solarz said even with so many of the students being virtual last year, the event was a hit.
This year, the food drive ran for a total of six days.
The original goal of $2,500 was met in less than one day. The school quickly expanded its efforts, setting a new goal of $10,000 which was still surpassed.
The school helped to provide over 43,508 meals for those in need.
Solarz said she had the opportunity to speak with the students during lunch about the drive. She let them know why they were taking part in the drive, how $1 provided 4 meals and why it’s important to be a good neighbor to those in need.
"The older students were even figuring out how many meals we had provided when I told them the amount we had raised so far," Solarz said. "They were so excited knowing they were making such a huge impact on our community."
Mrs. Crispell’s 1st grade class won the prize for the most donations during the food drive. The PTO Vice President said they are planning to do a pizza picnic with the school's mascot for the kids as well as supplying them with hand-made Great Neighbor Gator certificate's to show appreciation.
"These kids….they are simply amazing," Solarz said. "But to be honest, the kids at this school always do amazing things. I collect items to be recycled through TerraCycle every month and we’ve collected over 9000 items already. They donated leftover Halloween candy to the troops and I brought 241 pounds home to be packaged up. They donated costumes to Give Kids the World. And we have so much more planned this year."