Cheers for Children helps the needy for the holidays

Junior Trevor Kirby organizes canned food donated by students for the Cheers for Children food drive. Credit: Caitlin Trude/The Foothill Dragon Press.

Caitlin Trude

Junior Trevor Kirby organizes canned food donated by students for the Cheers for Children food drive. Credit: Caitlin Trude/The Foothill Dragon Press.

Cheers for Children is a Ventura Unified School District sponsored food drive that occurs once every year. The event started Dec. 6 and ended Dec.16.

Junior and ASB Special Projects Director Trevor Kirby recently ran the Red Ribbon Week event in October, and was in charge of Cheers for Children this year too.

According to Othelia Blackler, who works in the Student Store, the school raised approximately $1,805 last year. ASB adviser Darcy Perez hoped that Foothill would be able to raise at least $1,500 this year and had hoped that the school would continue with its generosity and contributions as in previous years. Perez added that through this event, gift cards could be given to less fortunate families who would then be able to buy what they need.

But Kirby stated that he had some goals that went beyond numbers.

 “I think the biggest goal is trying to help a family that can’t put food on the table or support their family. It [Cheers for Children] helps students realize the need for participating in charitable events,” Kirby said.

To motivate Foothill students to bring food items to their third period classrooms, Kirby participated in “Spirit Blitzing” by dressing up in Foothill’s colors and bringing candy and words of encouragement to certain classes.

Kirby also sent out emails to teachers and even created a Facebook group promoting Cheers for Children. There were roughly 150 people in the group, which Kirby knew was not a large number.

If every student at the school were to bring in one food item, Kirby said, it would make a huge difference. McCarthy agreed, saying that “every helping hand makes a difference in our community.”

Kristie Wallace, who assists Cheers for Children Chairperson Dr. Trudy T. Arriaga, has campaigned for this event for the past three years. She believed that numbers of food products given out to families has increased since the last year. For example, the number of hams being distributed went up from about 350 to 365 since the previous food drive.

To distribute a variety of food among families, Wallace relied on each school to bring food items from a certain category. Foothill was responsible for dried bread and dessert products this year, although several canned items were brought in as well. “It’s amazing the response we get,” Wallace said of the high schools involved with Cheers for Children.

Wallace enjoyed her experience with Cheers for Children this December. “It’s the best part of my job. It’s very exciting for me…it’s very heartwarming.”

But the giving doesn’t have to end yet. Friday, Dec. 17 anyone can come to help sort and box food items at Balboa Middle School at 3 pm. Packing and sorting may continue the following day at 8 am. On Christmas Eve morning at 8 am, the food baskets each school has worked so hard to fill will be delivered to families through volunteers.

According to Kirby, Foothill collected approximately 1,039 food products this year.

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