• Caring Hearts Admin

Tiny T-Birds collect soup for WOW

Daily News staff Feb 4, 2019

A “Souper Bowl” food drive conducted by Mohave High School’s Family, Career and Community Leaders of America chapter and the school’s Tiny T-Birds Early Childhood Center collected more than 1,000 cans of soup. The soup will be donated to the WOW Mobile Produce Pantry administered by the Caring Hearts Food Bank Ministry in Fort Mohave.

BULLHEAD CITY — When members of Mohave High School’s Family, Career and Community Leaders of America chapter set a goal, chances are they not only will meet it but will exceed it.

“Learning the importance of giving to others starts in early childhood,” said Michele Leyendecker, director of the Tiny T-Birds Early Childhood Center at Mohave High School and adviser to MHS’ FCCLA chapter. “With that said, our T-Birds teamed up with the FCCLA chapter to tackle hunger in our community.”

A food drive, to collect canned soup, was planned with a goal of 500 items in what was known as the Souper Bowl drive, in the spirit of Sunday’s Super Bowl football game.

In a little more than two weeks — from Jan. 14-31, the Tiny T-Birds and the 25 FCCLA members not only met the goal, they doubled it.

“Because of their overwhelming support, generosity and competitiveness, we actually doubled our goal and will be donating over 1,000 cans of soup to our Lead2Feed service partner, the WOW Mobile Produce Pantry,” Leyendecker said.

The Tiny T-Birds — children enrolled in the onsite early childhood center at MHS — and FCCLA members enlisted the help of their families, turning a local effort into one with nationwide support.

“We even received donations from former Tiny T-Bird families and staff members,” Leyendecker said, “as well as extended family members that stretched from California to Ohio.”

Leyendecker said the soup will be donated to WOW on Feb. 12, in honor of “Team Tuesday” during National FCCLA Week.

FCCLA is for high school students preparing for future careers working with young children, either as educators or care providers.

It’s part of the local FCCLA chapter’s ongoing efforts to combat hunger in the area.

“We will continue to volunteer monthly at the WOW Mobile Produce Pantry,” Leyendecker said.

The WOW program is administered locally by the Caring Hearts Food Bank Ministry in Fort Mohave.

“The MHS FCCLA ECE Chapter has been essential to the success of WOW,” said Betty Rae, managing director of the Caring Hearts Food Ministry Inc. “Salvaging what would be considered thousands of pounds of blemished food waste is a labor-intensive process, yet, through diligent volunteer service performed by the students, families could choose from the best of the ‘recovered, rescued’ food.”

WOW — With Out Waste — endeavors to take food that likely would be thrown out and turn it into fresh produce for public consumption. Rae said the local program has provided more than 106,000 pounds of produce to more than 5,000 families — a total of 14,000 individuals, much of it distributed with the help of the FCCLA volunteers.

“It has been a pleasure serving alongside prolific smiles and a steadfast work ethic,” Rae said. “The students made a considerable impact at WOW by striving for excellence, participating in force with tenacious efforts meticulously culling produce, lugging boxes, courteous administrative support and providing respectful service with points and distinction to members of our community who find themselves in need.

“We have been continually impressed by the students’ commitment to an often overlooked and unfortunate circumstance regarding food access and would love to see them recognized for their loyal service and dedication to the WOW Mobile Produce Pantry and our shared mission to provide nutritious, supplementary ‘Foods2Encourage’ to local households.”


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