Since toys are on everyone’s minds at Christmas, P.S. 83 and the 49 Precinct are making sure Bronx families won’t have to worry about food for the holidays.
On Monday, December 20, the school donated more than 5,000 pounds of nonperishable goods to the precinct for its annual food drive. Although the amount is less than the school was able to give last year, it is a significant portion of the food drive, which has been very successful this year.
“This is a tremendous amount of food,” said Joe Thompson, President of the 49 Precinct Community Council. “This is a fantastic drive and it’s going pretty good.”
Thanks to the large donations from P.S. 83 and the Van Nest Assembly of God, which donated about 4,000 pounds of food, the precinct raised more than 10,000 pounds of canned goods and essentials. The food will be given out to different community groups and food pantries in the area, such as St. Lucy’s School, the Bronx Jewish Center and the Parkside Senior Center.
Over the past few months, students at P.S. 83 brought in everything from everyday items like cereals, soups and pasta to the essentials like vegetable oil, dried beans and canned vegetables.The school was able to get a good variety of items because each class made a check list of food they needed to bring in, said assistant principal, Raymond Granda, who heads the food drive efforts.
He has been leading the food drive for the past five years, and created a holiday tradition for many of the students and parents.
“People give every year. But it’s gotten to he point where families are really struggling. It’s rough. These are tough times,” he said. “This year I had some parents call and say ‘hey, we’d like to give more, but we just can’t do it’.”
Last year the school brought in about 7,000 pounds of food.
Granda said he got involved in the project because the food stays in the area, and may even go to support the needy families in the school. He said 60 percent of the school is at poverty level or below and the school is given free lunches, which are often the only meals the children can afford to eat each day.
Fifth and sixth-graders Rosemarie and Amanda Conforto said they brought in more than a dozen cans of food because they wanted to help less fortunate people during the holidays.
“We brought it in for the people that need it,” said Rosemarie. “It feels nice when we help them and give people the things they need.”
Sixth-grader Ciaran Flattery, who brought in cans and helped the precinct move the goods, said his biggest worry this Christmas is that some people in the area might go hungry for the holidays.
“I might want to help other people so they can have a good Christmas too,” he said.