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Students help haul in 100,000 pounds for Harvest

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Call it a lesson in heavy lifting and philanthropy.

Last week, Winnipeg Harvest revealed students from 69 Manitoba schools helped raise more than 26,000 pounds of food as part of its 14th annual Operation Donation School Food Drive earlier this month.

"It feels good," said Cameron Tramley, a Grade 6 student at École Varennes in St. Vital, which contributed about 500 pounds to the total.

The food was collected from Feb. 25 to March 1, and included food donated from the Manitoba Teacher’s Society and Manitoba Public Insurance. Peak of the Market and Canada Safeway matched the weight of donations from all the groups, pushing the campaign total to 117,800 pounds.

But it’s only a drop in the bucket for the food bank, located at 1085 Winnipeg Ave. The amount is about one-ninth of the more than one million pounds of food Harvest moves each month to 5,500 city households, 40 low-income daycares and 26 schools, spokesman Duncan Stokes said.

"It fills a lot of need for a lot of different people," he said.

"It doesn’t mean we don’t need more. We always need more."

Operation Donation began as a food drive between six schools in the St. James-Assiniboia School Division, and has netted more than a million pounds for Harvest.

Grade 5 École Varennes student Kateesha Wai said she brought food in each day during this year’s campaign, from canned meat to crackers to noodles and pasta sauces.

"It makes you really thankful for everything you have," said Wai, who has helped volunteer at Harvest and the local food bank Harvest operates at St. Mary’s Road United Church as part of her school curriculum.

Varennes Principal Jeff Anderson said the school’s knitting club is also supporting Harvest by selling homemade knitted scarves for $15. The school has so far raised more than $1,000, he said.

"We want to develop the citizenship skills of our students," said Anderson.

"We want them to recognize they’re part of a wider community and to help out."

Stokes said youth like Cramley and Wai play a pivotal role in Harvest’s future.

"We need more young adults who . . . have a sense of philanthropy and community, and will lead that fight against hunger in the future."

For more, call Harvest at 204-982-3663 or visit winnipegharvest.org.

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