Lakeview Junior High School students and staff members this weekend are expected to donate money for turkeys, as well as more than 800 canned goods, to help area residents have Thanksgiving dinner.

Lakeview Junior High School students and staff members this weekend are expected to donate money for turkeys, as well as more than 800 canned goods, to help area residents have Thanksgiving dinner.

Each of the Pickerington Local School District's buildings has a long history of community service projects, including support of the PCMA Food Pantry of Pickerington.

This month, students and staff at Lakeview have continued that outreach through a student-driven initiative to help provide Thanksgiving dinners to people in need throughout the school district's boundaries.

The Thanksgiving Food Drive started with the help of Tara Ruckman, a Lakeview intervention specialist, and Stephanie Bowers, a multiple disabilities paraprofessional at the school.

Ruckman and Bowers are advisers to the Lakeview Student Council.

They encouraged student council members to organize three community service projects for this school year and the council then provided several options for Thanksgiving, which were presented to the school's student body.

"The whole student body voted to do this," Ruckman said.

"We want to show that we are a district that may be divided in North and Central because of its size, but in all reality we are one Pickerington," she said.

"We are one community, and we should support those of all ages all around us and not be limited to helping people in just a portion of the district."

From Nov. 14-18, all of Lakeview's roughly 800 students have been encouraged to bring at least one canned- or dry-food item to donate for Thanksgiving dinners to be distributed by the Pickerington Food Pantry on Sunday, Nov. 20.

Additionally, Lakeview staff members plan to donate money to help buy turkeys for local individuals and families in need, and additional money and items brought in through Nov. 22 will help support the food pantry's December operations.

"This is our first year participating in this community service project, so for this year our goal is just to provide as much as possible," Bowers said.

"We are making the food drive into a competition between all (six school) teams to bring in more participation," she said.

"The team that brings in the most goods will win a prize."

Ruckman said the project not only helps students understand the importance of supporting their community, but shows them they can make a significant impact.

She noted that one bag of groceries can provide as many as 11 meals.

"Here at Lakeview, we have a team of administrators, school counselors that hit the floor running each day, teachers collaborating daily to ensure we are meeting the needs of the students, and many staff members that are working hard to implement programs that work on supporting the 'whole student,'" Ruckman said.

"By working on the 'whole student' we are trying to teach the importance of supporting one another and together we can make positive impact."

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