As the holidays approach, the Johnstown-Northridge Community Food Pantry is prepared to meet the demand of need.
Much of the gratitude goes to students at the Northridge and Johnstown-Monroe school districts.
During the pantry's biggest donation drive of the year, students competed for the honors of collecting the most food items. Collection boxes were set up in classrooms Oct. 7-11.
"It's really a good thing," said Dick Steyer, Knights of Columbus deputy grand knight who helps with the food pantry. "It takes two full days to bring the food in and sort it out. This was a big boost. Usually, the food takes families through the end of the year and well-into January before the shelves get low again."
Students collected a total of 15,110 items, with Northridge schools claiming the top prize for collecting 8,392 items. Each canned good or item counts as one point, with monetary contributions of $1 being equal to 2 points.
Students also helped to unload and sort items at the pantry, which is within the Johnstown Independent Baptist Church, 7397 Johnstown-Alexandria Road (state Route 37). It is open three times a week.
Cash contributions totaled about $3,000, said Steyer, whose organization helps sponsor the food drive.
The top elementary school donors were Suzanne Brungart's second-grade class at Northridge Primary School in Alexandria; Rebecca Stainbrook's fifth-grade class at Northridge Intermediate School; Gina Shell's second-grade class at Johnstown Oregon Elementary School; and Julie Smith's fourth-grade class at Johnstown Searfoss Elementary School.
The elementary classes were awarded a pizza party donated by Johnnies Villa Pizza.
Students last year collected 18,556 units and more than $3,500 in cash contributions.
"We collected a little bit more last year, but I think everyone realizes it's probably needed now more than ever with a lot of people giving," Steyer said.
Pantry director Ruth Krumm said before the weeklong food drive that shelves were nearly bare before Abercrombie & Fitch donated roughly 14,000 items.
In September, the pantry tended to 142 families.
Those interested in contributing to the pantry should call Krumm at 740-924- 2835.